Parents as media educators: communication between children and parents about media content

Ilišin, Vlasta (2006) Parents as media educators: communication between children and parents about media content. In: Media literacy and civil society. Mediacentar, Sarajevo, pp. 135-156. ISBN 9958-9417-5-9

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Research shows that besides socializing with friends (peers), use of media is children’ s ad young adults’ favorite pastime. Among mess media, television is number one with children watching movies, series and game shows most often. Based n these findings, as well as the results on preferred contents in other media, we can conclude that, in their daily lives, children mostly use media for entertainment ; however, media’ s socialization potential is not negligible. Considering that media is a socializing agent and that its effect is conditioned by numerous social factors, special emphasis ought to be placed on the analysis of children’ s c0mmunication about media content. The results have shown that conversation about media content are not equally represented across the board – while media content is the most talked about topic among friends and peers, in conversations with parents it is somewhere down toward the middle of the list. Within this tendency we noticed that the frequency of conversations about movies, music and books with one’ s peers depends only on the respondents’ grades in school, with better students showing more readiness to talk about media content. Conversations on the same topics with one’ s mother on the other hand depend only on the child’ s age, while conversations with the father are related to both age ad grades. It was also found that, in addition to better students, younger children also discuss media content more frequently, but only in relation to parents. These age-conditioned differences are the result of the overall growth process, which is at the age 10-14 characterized by gradual independence from one’ s parents and greater focus on one’ s peers. It is obvious, as children grow, there are fewer topics of conversation with parents and that the existing topics are discussed less frequently. In support of the above is the fact that frequency of conversation about media content with parents decreases with respondents’ age, while this is not the case with peers. In other words, ten-years-olds talk to their peers about media content equally often, while the older they get, the less frequently talk to their parents about media content. In brief, the results show that the respondents are comparatively homogenous when it comes to the manners in which they communicate. There are slight differences regarding frequency of communication about media content that are solely based on different characteristics of the children (such as their age and grades), while the characteristics regarding their parents (level of education and employment status of mothers and fathers) did not make any difference. It is important to note that the fact that parents were university-educated or they did not finish school or the fact that both parents were working to that one was a stay-at-home parent did not play a role in the frequency of conversation about media content. Therefore, the fact that parent’ s education and employment did not affect frequency of conversation about media content shows that parents do not act as media educators. This means that they do not affect the perception of media content, not do they know how their children feel about the content. Even though all media research accentuate the parents’ role in preparing children for the proper use of media, in Croatia, that role is entirely neglected and even parents themselves are not aware of their own responsibility in this area of their children’ s daily lives. Certainly, one can assume that parents (especially the more educated ones) talk to their children about media content when children are smaller. But, even if this is the case, the question is why this kind of conversation loses intensity as children grow up, when that indeed is the time when such conversations on media content could be more positive, on more equal footing and more versatile. Is the reason for this (un)conscious undermining of media as a socializing agent or the pressure of daily living which does not leave time or energy for comprehensive and intensive communication or the inheritance of a patriarchal form of socialization dominated by a family that has no communication skills – these are all questions best left for some future research on communication within family. The results we have been available here are very limited in scope and don not allow for a broader conclusion. Frequency of conversation about media content is just one of the indicators of communication between children and parents ; however, it shows that this communication between is flawed. According to the results, children’ s need for communication is a greater than the daily contact they have with their parents, particularly in those aspects which are not directly related to their school work and academic achievements. Insufficient communication between children and parents about media content, coupled with data which shows that parents have no influence over how much or what kind of content children choose, point to the reality that parents of elementary school children in Croatia have neither a selective bit restrictive approach when it cones to their children’ s attitude to media. Children are left to the influence of their peers and the environment, while communication within the family, for most part consisting of little dialogue, is mostly directed towards daily problems and the questions of children’ s futures. It should be noted once again that our indicators suggest that even university educated parents have still not managed to satisfactorily overcome limitations of the patriarchal form of socialization and have not found a suitable way to nurture friendly dialogue with their own children.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Language: English. - Chapter is also published in Croatian. - Title in Croatian: Roditelji kao medijski odgajatelji: komunikacija djece i roditelja o medijskim sadržajima (URI: - Book editor: Nada Zgrabljić Rotar.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Children, parents, communication, media content (djeca, roditelji, komunikacija, medijski sadržaji)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
L Education > L Education (General)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Depositing User: Karolina
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2016 12:07
Last Modified: 04 Jan 2017 13:18

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