A Sourcebook on Children and Television

A Sourcebook on Children and Television

A Sourcebook on Children and Television

A Sourcebook on Children and Television


This book grew out of the perceived need for an authoritative sourcebook and compendium of existing research. Each chapter consists of an extensive review of the literature and research relating to numerous aspects of the broad topic, including content, commercials, viewing habits, cognitive effects, behavioral effects, educational impact, and a brief history of children's programming. The first section focuses on the more formal aspects of television and how they relate to children. The second section examines the content and effects of television and the impact they may have on children's behavior and their ideas of the world.


I had often heard that having children gave parents a chance to get back in touch with childhood. My children, David and Laura Jane, have certainly given me this opportunity. They also have given me another opportunity: a chance to look at the medium I have studied extensively for the past twenty-plus years through their eyes.

Children and television have a natural affinity. Television is their storyteller, their window on the world. They fall in love with it at first sight and, as far as they're concerned, the object of their love can do no wrong. Children often do not understand why their parents may limit their viewing or ask them to do something besides watch television.

Even when viewing is limited, by the time the average child reaches the age of eighteen, she or he will have spent more time with television than any other activity except sleep. The average child spends between a quarter and a fifth of his or her waking hours each day watching television. The cumulative effect of this much television viewing cannot be ignored; as we will see, television has both positive and negative effects. It is not a total wasteland as some may contend, nor is it a harmless diversion. The answer does not lie in summarily eliminating television from a child's life. Rather, we must learn about television's impacts and effects so we can determine the role it should play in our lives and those of out children. We must also learn how to get the most out of television for ourselves and our children.

Getting this information, however, is not easy. As I began to explore the role of television in children's lives, I realized that the bulk of this information was scattered in the hundreds of books and thousands of studies and research articles . . .

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