chapter  45
7 Pages

Media policies for children: issues and histories in the US

ByNorma Pecora

In the United States, the discourse on children and media has been grounded in the assumption of inappropriate media content influencing the behavior of a vulnerable audience. It is argued here that this assumption has its roots in the early twentieth century reformist tradition, beginning with the introduction of motion pictures. Over the decades, this discourse has played out in debates on issues such as inappropriate content that gives rise to criminality and violence and advertising and commercialism. Takanishi (1978), speaking of the emergence of “childhood” as a social concern, offers up a number of examples demonstrating that the “past does influence the present” but warns the reader that “teasing out the variables in this relationship is a highly tortuous and complex task” (p. 10). The reader is also forewarned that the story presented here is an unfinished history of the way citizens’ groups,1 media industries, and policy makers have debated the issues on children and their media in the United States.2