Children, Teens, Families and the Mass Media: The Millennial Generation gives college undergraduates and other readers a survey of the relationship of children and media using their own experiences as well as theory and research concerning children from two to 18 years of age in the context of U. S. society and culture. The media of radio, television and the Internet found in the home are the focus of this book, because these particular media are home utilities and therefore the most accessible to children of many ages. The “Mil- lennial Generation,” those children who graduated high school in the year 2000 and after, are the subject of the book as well as the intended audience. The text chapters have side bar interviews with teens who work in media and people who develop policy or programming for children's media. The illustrations are taken from published comic strips and political cartoons as well as children's il- lustrations solicited specifically for this book.
While many books are written as anthologies on the topic of children and media, this book is a monograph written for college undergraduates. While many books are written for a popular audience or anthologies for graduate students, this book is written in a variety of expository styles to provide clarity and models for undergraduate writing. The book is written in a research paper style so as to model that type of academic writing. The writing style, however varies to include interview-based sections written in a more journalistic style. The writing is intended to provide models for academic and journalistic writing for the student audience. The book provides a glossary and questions and activities for further consideration to extend the exploration of topics in the classroom. While many books provide adult art for illustrations, this book provides some ill ustrations by children in the age group this book is discussing. The book was written for a college level course on children and the media. It also can be used as a supplemental text for courses such as Introduction to Mass Media, Mass Communication and Society and Media Literacy. Other courses for which the text would be appropriate include a variety of courses in education, communication, psychology and public health. The medical profession sees children and the media as an important public health topic.
The approach is theory-based with attention to developmental, gender, ethnic and generational differences of children ages two to 18. Part I gives the theoretical context in chapters 1 to 3. Chapter 1 provides theories emphasizing various elements of the communication model. Chapter 2, the developmental theory chapter, is critical to the study of children and media since it is the age differences and consideration of those differences that often are over-looked by the public on this topic. Many of the difficulties we have with the relationship of children and media occur because children's developmental differences are not taken into account. For example, it is crucial that children's inability to differentiate fantasy and reality before age 8 be established for our society. The inability to differentiate fantasy from reality can lead to behaviors such as violence by children that imitate the violence without any concern for the reality or the consequences of the acts. Chapter 3 uses generational theory to provide a historic context based on people as well as events and changes in technology.
With a basis in theory, the focus shifts to the audience of children. Part II, Audience Reactions, examines children's perceptions of fantasy and reality (chapter 4), the effects they may experience (chapter 5), and the diverse identities (chapter 6) children may develop using media messages.
After this consideration of the child audience, Part III looks at what tools we have in the relationship of children and media. The last section, Empowering Audiences, reviews the various ways our society has of monitoring the relationship by examining the role of parents and families (chapter 7), the role of adults and schools in teaching media literacy (chapter 8), the role of society in developing policies and laws (chapter 9), and the role of programmers in listening to the audience (chapter 10). Chapter 9 presents the Children's Television Act of 1990, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and various attempts at restricting indecency on the Internet. The related case law and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations help to interpret and either support or eliminate laws passed by Congress. By including interviews information with U. S. Rep. Ed Markey and FCC Commissioner Susan Ness, the difficult legal concepts become easier for the reader to understand. Chapter 10 emphasizes the importance of listening to the audience in developing programming and includes several interviews with people working with Sesame Street, Blue's Clues and Nick News . These provide a current view of children's programming as it is done today. Readers can understand the economic and programmatic variables that go into making long-lasting children's programming.
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