Children and Television: A Challenge for Education

Children and Television: A Challenge for Education

Children and Television: A Challenge for Education

Children and Television: A Challenge for Education

Synopsis

Since the mid-1970s a shift in perspective has occurred on the relationship between TV and young viewers. Researchers, parents, teachers, policymakers, and consumer advocate groups have shown increased criticism of televisions's role as social educator, babysitter, agent for mass consumer socialization, and perpetrator of questionable social values, morals, and mythical human behaviors. Educators intersted in understanding the complex and wide-ranging contrversies about the influence of television on children will find much in this edited collection to clarify their understanding of the empirical research, educational practice, and national policy issues raised by the relationship between TV and children.

Excerpt

Since the mid-1970s a shift in perspective has occurred on the relationship between TV and young viewers. For the past two decades, researchers have characterized the child viewer as a naive, uncritical, and passive receiver of TV information. Social commentators and parents have variously considered TV a powerful and mesmerizing "waste of time," a stimulus to undesirable responses in children, a social educator, a babysitter, a technological agent for mass consumer socialization, and a perpetrator of questionable social values, morals, and mythified human behaviors. Most recently, however, researchers, parents and teachers, policymakers, and consumer advocate groups have shown an increased interest in clarifying the complex and wide-ranging controversies about TV and children.

The recent popular literature on TV and children has led many to believe that TV is usurping the role of schools as a primary institution for socializing youth, for transmitting culturally relevant knowledge and values, and, in short, shaping life and society in North America. Some teachers comment on how TV intrudes into the classroom: schoolyard play replicates the behaviors, relationships, and interaction of popular, often violent, TV programs; others have found that creative writing and journal-keeping, for many children, is little more than an exercise in recounting the endless hours and TV programs watched. Undoubtedly, what and how much TV children watch is of serious concern to educators.

The book is divided into three major sections and concludes with an Appendix providing a selective and annotated bibliography of studies on TV and children conducted since 1976. Part I includes chapters that discuss theory and present empirical studies. The theme of this section reflects a consensus among the researchers that the TV- child relationship is interactive, that the child viewer is not a passive recipient of TV information but cognitively acts upon incoming information. Ellen Wartella argues that children's background knowledge and their cognitive and experiential skills influence how children interpret TV content, its symbolic form, and, ultimately, influence what . . .

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