Examining the assumptions in research on children and media
In a landmark article, Peters (1986) argued that because communication applies concepts and theories from other ﬁelds, it cannot be thought of as a distinct, coherent discipline. Gonzales (1988) countered that communication has its roots in interdisciplinarity and, rather than being a source of intellectual poverty, the interdisciplinary nature of communication is one of its main strengths. Nowhere is this more evident than in the area of children and media. Typically, a sound piece of scholarship that examines children and media looks not only at the child, but at the child as a developmentally inﬂuenced and constrained individual. Many scholars (e.g., Byrne et al., 2009; Cantor, 2002; Krcmar, 2010) take developmental theory as a starting point. Research on children and media has worked consistently and intentionally to apply work from developmental psychology. However, surprisingly little has been written that examines this interplay between developmental psychology and media research or the theoretical and methodological assumptions that hold sway in this area of study. In fact, it is perhaps evidence of the strength of these assumptions that they have not been considered or examined at length. In this chapter I will examine these assumptions and discuss how environment inﬂuences child development and how methodological issues inﬂuence our understanding of both child development and of the interplay between media and child development.