chapter  41
8 Pages

Immigrant children and media

ByNelly Elias

Immigration and integration into a new society are among the most complex processes in an individual’s life, characterized by numerous losses, confusion, and challenges that eventually lead to significant personal changes. While the research literature usually pays more attention to changes characteristic of adult immigrants, the experience may be no less difficult for children and adolescents. Like their parents, immigrant youngsters miss their familiar culture and previous social networks. In parallel, the more rapid adoption of the new language and culture by immigrant youth may widen cultural gaps between them and older family members, thus weakening parental authority and family cohesion. Accordingly, a distinction should be made between the two adaptation processes that immigrant

youth undergo simultaneously: “Outward” integration (acquiring host language skills, adopting local youth culture, and socializing with local peers) and “inward” integration (instilling native linguistic skills, transmitting the cultural heritage, and spending leisure time together) (Elias and Lemish, 2008a). To succeed at these demanding processes, young immigrants have to maximize the use of the resources at their disposal, including media in the host and native languages. This chapter will provide an overview of the principal media use by immigrant children and adolescents seeking to facilitate their incorporation into the new culture – while attempting to preserve their original cultural identity – and to maintain family unity despite growing cultural gaps.