Television and the American Family

Television and the American Family

Television and the American Family

Television and the American Family


This second edition of a trend-setting volume provides an updated examination of the interaction between families and the most pervasive mass medium: television. Charting the dynamic developments of the American family and television over the past decade, this volume provides a comprehensive representation of programmatic research into family and television and examines extensively the uses families make of television, how extensions of television affect usage, families' evolving attitudes toward television, the ways families have been and are portrayed on television, the effects television has on families, and the ways in which families can mediate its impact on their lives. The volume is an invaluable resource for scholars and students in the areas of media and society, children and media, and family studies.


Evolution transforms human psyches so slowly and inconspicuously we may live lifetimes without recognizing mutations that take humankind along a new path. Social structures, like the family, adapt to changing circumstances more readily. But the development of technology is sometimes so rapid that many find the changes incomprehensible. And by the time we grasp the importance of a mechanism, it is obsolete.

In considering the family's use of television, we encounter all three evolutionary types: Humans, still responding with “fight-or-flight” responses, have changed little over the centuries; social structures like families have undergone major transformation since World War II; and marvelous telecommunications technology that was born yesterday—or this morning—forces us into new ways of knowing.

Defining Parameters

When analyzing the American family's use of television more than a decade ago, researchers and ordinary citizens disagreed about what constituted a family and about the nature and length of the relationships necessary to establish family ties (Andreasen, 1990). The traditional . . .

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