chapter
3 Pages

Editor’s introduction

The last section of the handbook focuses on various additional stakeholders who have had an interest in relationships between children and media, and who have intervened in ways they perceive to be beneficial to young people and society at large. The first four chapters focus on policymaking. The chapter by Norma Pecora maps the

history and key issues of media policies for children. She argues that the situation in the US has been dominated by the assumption regarding media effects; namely, media contain inappropriate content that is imposed on a vulnerable audience and influences their behavior. She discusses three historical factors that continue, even today, to inform discussions of digital media. First, an early twentieth century social reformist claim that children need protection; second, the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech for the press; and third, the fact that US media industries are part of the for-profit commercial system. Studying these forces enables us to understand the tensions between those who see children as needing protection, the demand by industry for profits, and a government regulatory system that works to please both, but never pleases either. Katalin Lustyik presents an overview of media regulation systems. She argues that the

media children consume on a daily basis can have a considerable impact on their cultural, social, and educational development. For example, the domination of “foreign imports,” such as US and Japanese cartoons offered on dozens of dedicated children’s television channels, can dwarf domestic production and cultural diversity. The chapter includes descriptions of various government initiatives and some of the legally binding international agreements implemented in different parts of the world to promote cultural diversity and to protect domestic and regional program production in the realm of children’s television. Advertising is a particularly contested policymaking area. Amy Beth Jordan and Joelle

Sano Gilmore discuss how the concern over the effects of exposure to advertising on children’s well-being and healthy development has led scholars and advocates to call for bans on advertising to children. In doing so, they examine studies related to the amount and effects of exposure to advertisements, highlighting specific concerns over the marketing of products such as tobacco and junk food that are potentially harmful to children. This analysis is followed by a discussion of government policy and regulation of advertising to children in the US, and the role of industry self-regulation. Finally, they consider alternatives to government policies, including the establishment of alternative funding streams for children’s media, media

literacy education for children and parents, and the production of high quality public service announcements (PSAs) to counter the effects of advertising and marketing on children and adolescents. A relatively new concern gaining momentum among the public relates to protecting children

online. In analyzing internet policies, Brian O’Neill argues that governments worldwide are seeking to introduce policies that restrict the circulation of harmful and illegal content, foster greater digital safety, and encourage more responsible practices by industry and by children themselves. The author discusses the difficulties involved when seeking to ensure that protection does not hinder either the inherent freedom of the internet or the capacity of young people to enjoy the opportunities afforded for learning, communication, and entertainment. Reviewing the background of internet regulation related to children, O’Neill presents the main contours of internet policies for children, including forms of content regulation through classification and labeling, the promotion of self-regulation on the part of industry, and education efforts to stimulate greater digital citizenship among young people. The next five chapters focus on the benefits of educational and quality media content offered

to children. Shalom M. Fisch reviews the impacts of educational media, television in particular, on learning. Decades of research have demonstrated that sustained viewing of well-designed educational television series can yield significant benefits for children’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes in a range of academic subject areas. Effects have been found among both preschool and school-age children, with consistent effects found across countries. When measured longitudinally, the impact of educational television series has been found to last for years. This chapter reviews key studies on the impact of educational television, theoretical approaches to explain children’s comprehension and learning, and added benefits that can arise when children use television in conjunction with other educational media platforms. Becky Herr Stephenson devotes specific attention to “new” media and learning.

She claims that efforts to understand and expand upon the possibilities for learning with new media have emerged over the last decade in both the public and private sectors. Research in new media and learning has drawn upon diverse paradigms including education, learning sciences, developmental psychology, communication and media studies, and neuroscience (among others). Two frameworks for understanding new media and learning include new media literacies and genres of participation, both of which highlight the importance and interdependence of social and technical skills in learning via new media. Of primary importance for future research on new media and learning are issues of equity in participation, including finding ways to ameliorate the participation gap, methods for bridging informal and formal learning spaces, and ways for new media to support the development of ethical and civic participation by youth. In her chapter on media literacy education, Renee Hobbs argues, first, that two overarching

themes have long been identified with this initiative: empowerment and protection. While some scholars and practitioners see media literacy education as a means to address the complexities and challenges of growing up in a media-and technology-saturated cultural environment, others see media literacy as a tool for personal, social, cultural, and political empowerment. Thus, a second, key framing question must be asked: Is media literacy education a social movement or an academic field? As a social movement, media literacy is aligned with the communication literature on media effects; while as an academic field, it is grounded in the field of education, with a focus on instructional practices of literacy learning with audio-visual and digital “texts.” In her conclusion, she suggests that renewed interest in media literacy as a means of civic engagement may reconcile the productive tension between empowerment and protectionist strands within the media literacy education community.