Amy B. Jordan
This presentation argues that to truly understand the effects of electronic media on the healthy development of children one must acknowledge the critical context of the family and the way in which it shapes (and is shaped by) patterns of media use within the home. I focus on four family-oriented “policies” aimed at altering children’s relationship with screen media by asking the following questions:
- How do families respond to increased access to educational media for children (the intended consequence of the Federal Communications Committee processing guideline known as the “Three-Hour Rule”)?
- Do families use ratings to guide their children’s media choices?
- Do families use the V-Chip as a tool for mediating television?
- How do families receive the recommendation (by leading health organizations) to reduce children’s screen media time to two hours per day or less?
Findings from these Annenberg Public Policy Center surveys, focus groups, field experiments and ethnographies indicated that few parents are aware of the regulations and recommendations that exist vis-à-vis media, in part because they are difficult to recognize, understand or implement. Parents are worried about the impact of some media (primarily television and videogames) and some content (primarily sex and violence) on some areas of their children’s development (primarily school performance and aggressive or “wild” behavior). Ultimately, changing children’s relationship with media may mean addressing many aspects of the family system, including: parents’ own relationship with media, children’s easy access to media within the domestic sphere, and the integral role media play within the home as entertainer, babysitter and insulator.