Media, Children, and the Family: Social Scientific, Psychodynamic, and Clinical Perspectives

By Dolf Zillmann; Jennings Bryant et al. | Go to book overview

4
THE EFFECT OF MEDIA ON FAMILY INTERACTION

Alison Alexander
The University of Georgia

The social changes that followed the shift from traditional to modern society have given the family a great deal of "leisure" time to be filled in the home ( Laslett, 1973; Sennett, 1970). For several decades, the family's use of this time has been dominated by television, which is deeply interwoven into the fabric of daily family life ( Leichter et al., 1985; Morley, 1986).

Directly and indirectly, television provides bases for family interaction ( Bryce & Leichter, 1983; Lull, 1980a), and these interactions teach and reinforce conventional ways of comprehending both the medium and social reality in general ( Alexander, Ryan, & Munoz, 1984; Messaris, 1986). A number of studies convincingly demonstrates the potential for family interaction to mediate the impact of exposure to media. In experimental settings, parental or adult comments have been found to aid children's understanding of program content ( Collins, Sobol, & Westby, 1981; Prasad, Rao, & Sheikh, 1978), to foster critical viewing skills ( Corder-Bolz & O'Bryant, 1978), and to increase recall of information from educational programs ( Salomon, 1977; Singer & Singer, 1976). However, co-viewing in a context of limited interaction tends to be the norm, restricting the learning that interaction could promote ( Anderson & Collins, 1988; Field, 1987).

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