How Can Parents and Siblings Modify TV’s Negative Effects?
Into Adulthood: Still Playing Games?
Internet Access and Use
Effects of Internet Involvement
Effects on Social Relationships
Research Up Close: Role-Playing Games and Social Life
Effects of Internet Sex
Effects on Mental Health
Cell Phone Connections
Insights from Extremes: The Risks of Sexting
At the Movies Schools and electronic media are not just textbook topics but also popular subjects for movies. This selection of films and television programs might make you think more deeply about the issues discussed in this chapter. All of these movies are more than a diversion with popcorn; they provide new insights into serious issues of social development in an electronic age.
Teachers in Film--The Ron Clark Story (2006) dramatizes the true story of a teacher who moved to Harlem and was given the “opportunity” to educate an unruly 6th-grade class. He has a hard time trying to reach the tough kids, but he perseveres, asserting his “we-are-family” creed and enforcing his multiple classroom rules. Gradually, the class warms up to him, and the story ends happily. The ending is not so happy in The Class (2008). This French movie focuses on the clash between naive students and flawed teachers. One teacher’s class is populated by teenagers from diverse backgrounds. He works to gain their trust and teach them, but his own frustrations sabotage his progress. These films illustrate the challenges teachers have in connecting with students on their developmental and emotional levels. In Won’t Back Down (2012), two determined mothers, one of whom is a teacher, look to transform their children's failing inner-city school. Facing a powerful and entrenched bureaucracy, they risk everything to make a difference in the education and future of their children. This illustrates an extreme case of parents’ involvement in schools. The film is loosely based on events surrounding the use of the Parent Trigger Law in Los Angeles, when several groups of parents attempted to take over failing public schools. This law, which was passed in California and other states in 2010, allows parents to overrule administrators in under-performing public schools and to direct changes such as dismissal of staff and conversion of a school to a charter school.
School Integration--One of a number of films exploring the effects of school desegregation is the HBO documentary Little Rock Central High: 50 Years Later (2007). In 1957, after the Supreme Court ordered desegregation in its Brown vs. Board of Education decision, nine African American students were prevented from entering Little Rock Central High School by an angry mob of white residents. This film follows present-day Central High students and faculty as well as one of the original “Little Rock Nine,” who reflects on how much and how little has changed since she courageously crossed the school’s steps nearly half a century ago. In a second television documentary, I Sit Where I Want: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education (2004), students at a racially mixed magnet school in Buffalo try to get their fellow students to do more racial mingling in the lunchroom and spend more time in each other’s homes. Remember the Titans (2000) depicts school integration in 1971 in suburban Virginia when federal mandate closed an black school and a white school and sent the students from both to T.C. Williams High School. Tensions arose when players of different races were forced together on the same football team, but the boys and the coaches learned to depend on and trust one another.
Mentoring--Mentors appear in many movies. In Terri (2011), an obese 15-year-old misfit comes to school wearing pajamas and constantly gets picked on; Mr. Fitzgerald, the intimidating and slightly eccentric vice principal at his school, tries to help him overcome the difficulties of life and high school through weekly meetings at his office.In The Karate Kid (1984), Mr. Miyagi, an elderly Japanese handyman, teaches Daniel karate and through a series of lessons, instills in him a sense of honor and nobility while preparing him for the ultimate karate showdown. Yoda, in The Empire Strikes Back (1980), is another famous mentor, who trains many knights, most famously, Luke Skywalker. In The Peaceful Warrior (2006), Dan is an arrogant but troubled college gymnast who finds an unlikely guru in Socrates, a mysterious character who takes Dan under his tutelage and teaches him to live in the moment, appreciate the journey, and accept his lack of control over the future.
Movies about the “Small Screen”--The effects of television are exaggerated in two thought-provoking satirical comedies: In Being There (1979), a simple-minded gardener is put out on the street after his millionaire benefactor dies. He has no knowledge of the world except what he has learned from television, but his empty-headed pronouncements and generalizations are taken to be profoundly intelligent and insightful. In The Truman Show (1998) Jim Carrey is an insurance agent who lives with his chronically nice wife in the largest TV set ever built where everyone except him is an actor. The message of these movies, that television will overrun lives and saturate brains, should provide insights about children glued to the tube. More seriously, two recent documentaries, Miss Representation (2011) and Sexy Baby (2012), offer powerful and uncompromising looks at how the media trivialize and sexualize girls and women.
Video Gaming--Avatars Offline (2002) examines the multibillion-dollar gaming industry and explores how MMORPGs are part of mainstream U.S. culture and changing the lives of those who play them. Second Skin (2008) is a documentary that follows the lives of seven people whose lives have been transformed by virtual worlds in online games such as World of Warcraft, Everquest, and Second Life, including an avid player whose life spins out of control owing to his addiction to playing. /afk (2010) (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlpEOaLyx1s) is a short film about a World of Warcraft player whose shrink tells him that he is addicted and should delete his character. Yet he still wants to fulfill his one big dream: to become a dragonslayer.
Internet Issues--The PBS documentary Frontline: Growing Up Online (2008) looks inside the world of cyber-savvy teenagers who are on YouTube and Facebook every day, socializing with friends and strangers, trying on identities, and building virtual profiles of themselves. The program shows how teens often find themselves on the opposite side of a digital divide from their parents, grappling with issues their parents never had to confront from instant Internet fame to online sexual predators.
The issue of Internet deception is a popular movie topic. In one movie, Internet Dating (2008), a man who describes himself as a 7-foot tall Lakers basketball player turns out to be a 5-foot burger flipper. Deception is a particular concern when it hides a sexual predator as in the short film First Date (2006), in which an ex-con arranges an encounter with an underage boy he has met online. In the feature film Hard Candy (2005), predatory Internet hook-ups are turned on their head. After three weeks of online chat, a 14-year-old girl meets the 32-year-old man she has been communicating with and proposes they go to his house. Once there, she gets the man drunk, ties him up, and accuses him of pedophilia. For the rest of the movie, she engages in a torturous game of mouse and cat—quite the reverse of what usually happens when a pedophile lures a child to a meeting.
A much lighter note is sounded in LOL (2012), a coming-of-age story in a world connected by YouTube, iTunes, and Facebook. Lola and her friends navigate the peer pressures of high school romance and friendship while dodging their sometimes overbearing and confused parents. When Lola's mom “accidentally” reads her daughter's racy journal, she realizes just how wide their communication gap has grown. In @urFRENZ (2010) a psychologically fragile high schooler develops a flirtatious online relationship with a boy she's never met and doesn't realize it's actually a middle-aged woman using a phony name, illustrating another Internet problem: lack of transparency.
Learning from Living Leaders: Chapter 9 Schools, Mentors, Media:
Connections with Society
Nancy E. Hill
Nancy Hill, an expert on family–school relations, is Professor of Education at Harvard University. After her graduate work at Michigan State University and postdoctoral study at Arizona State University, she taught at Duke University before going to Harvard. Her primary research interests include understanding family socialization in diverse contexts. Specifically, she studies how socialization varies across ethnic and socioeconomic groups and is influenced by neighborhood processes and other contexts such as schools. She also studies demographic variations in the relations between family dynamics and children’s development.
Her recent research includes Project PASS (Promoting Academic Success for Students), a longitudinal study that examines family predictors of children’s school performance from kindergarten through 4th grade. Another study, ACTION/ACCIONES, is a multiethnic longitudinal study of parents’ involvement in education at the transition between elementary and middle school. She collaborates with the Study Group on Race, Culture, and Ethnicity, an interdisciplinary group of nationally known scholars who are developing theories and methods to define and understand the cultural contexts of diverse families. She hopes her work will be used to promote better relations between families and schools, thereby improving the lives of minority children who are often at a disadvantage in school.
Further Reading Hill, N. E., & Torres, K. A. (2010). Negotiating the American dream: The paradox of aspirations and achievement among Latino students and engagement between their families and schools. Journal of Social Issues, 66, 95–112.
Learning from Living Leaders: Chapter 9 Schools, Mentors, Media:
Connections with Society Deborah Lowe Vandell
Deborah Vandell is Dean of the School of Education at the University of California at Irvine. After completing graduate work at Harvard and Boston University, she taught at the University of Texas at Dallas and then at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in educational psychology, human development and family studies, and psychology. Her research has focused on three issues: the effects of early child care and education on children’s development; the effects of afterschool programs and activities on children and youth, particularly low-income children of color; and children’s relationships with peers, parents, siblings, teachers, and mentors. Her research methods include observations, interviews, and surveys, and her work spans ages from infancy to adolescence. Her findings have clear practical implications and have been used as the basis for improving the quality of child care and afterschool programs for children. Vandell has served on advisory boards and panels for the National Academy of Science, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Institute for Early Education Research as well as several foundations, and she has provided testimony before the U.S. Congress and other federal, state, and local government bodies.
Vandell D. L., Belsky J., Burchinal M., Steinberg L., Vandergrift N., & NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2010). Do effects of early child care extend to age 15 years? Results from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. Child Development, 81, 737–756.
Learning from Living Leaders: Chapter 9 Schools, Mentors, Media:
Connections with Society Aletha C. Huston
Aletha Huston is Professor Emerita of Child Development at the University of Texas at Austin. Although she started out as a chemistry major, she became interested in social development as a result of working with Albert Bandura, the social-learning theorist, at Stanford University.
The goal of her work has been to describe the processes by which observation of social behavior (primarily on TV) influences children’s learning and behavior. In addition, she has studied the effects of poverty and child care on children’s development. Her proudest accomplishment is that she was the first researcher to go beyond studying violent television programs to study prosocial television programs. This began a long program of research in which she investigated the potential of television for teaching children social and cognitive skills and contributed to a movement to improve children’s television rather than simply criticizing it. The Federal Communications Commission frequently cites her work in decisions about children’s television, and she has been widely recognized for her work.
She has won numerous research awards, including the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society and the Nicholas Hobbs award for Research and Child Advocacy from the American Psychological Associaton. The most pressing issue today, according to Huston, is how to introduce knowledge about children’s development into the policy process. She sees multidisciplinary work, combining developmental sciences, sociology, policy analysis, and economics, as an exciting trend that will lead to better understanding of complex problems. As an undergraduate, she was frightened by the idea of doing original research because she thought it required a new theory or something remarkably creative, but her message to students today is, “Don’t be intimidated. You can start small, working with good mentors, and grow into doing good work.”
Further Reading Huston, A. C., Bickham, D. S., Lee, J. H., & Wright, J. C. (2007). From attention to comprehension: How children watch and learn from television. In N. Pecora, J. Murray, & E. A. Wartella (Eds.), Children and television: Fifty years of research (pp. 41–64). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Learning from Living Leaders: Chapter 9 Schools, Mentors, Media:
Connections with Society Patricia M. Greenfield
Patricia Greenfield is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Children’s Digital Media Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (www.cdmc.ucla.edu). As a graduate student at Harvard University, she was introduced to cross-cultural research and began a career studying how different cultures deal with technological advances and the development of formal education. Over the course of her career, she showed how the introduction of new media transforms the ways we communicate, form social relationships, and learn new social roles.
She began studying media effects on children in the United States when she received a phone call from a local radio station about a new program for children that the station had started to develop. This led to her 11-year-old daughter’s job as a radio advice columnist for kids and to Greenfield’s interest in studying the effects of radio and television on children. Her interest in computers and video games followed from her son’s fascination with them and his ability to learn to program much faster than she could. Electronic media became a family focal point, and the intergenerational process of cultural transmission went in both directions as both her son and her daughter went into media-related careers. Greenfield’s history offers an example of how social scientists’ choice of problems is often influenced by their children’s interests. It illustrates the point that children influence their parents as well as the reverse.
Greenfield has received numerous awards for teaching and research, including an award for outstanding behavioral science research from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society. She frequently talks to reporters about children and the new media.
Further Reading Subrahmanyam, K., & Greenfield, P. M. (2012). Digital media and youth: Games, Internet, and development. In K. Subrahmanyam & P. Greenfield (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (2nd ed., pp. 75–96). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Explain what is meant by school representing a social community.
Describe the influences of school size and organization on social development (e.g., opportunities for participation in school activities, age groupings and school transitions, coeducational versus mixed gender).
Describe influences on children’s social experiences by class size and organization (e.g., small classes, open classrooms, cooperative learning, peer tutoring).
Summarize the findings regarding how teachers contribute to children’s social success via teacher-child relationships, classroom management, and expectations.
Define the Pygmalion effect and the notion of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Describe the links between family and school in terms of similarities and differences in home versus school culture, parental involvement, school as a buffer for children with stressful home lives, and after-school programs.
Summarize the findings regarding the effects of school integration on student self-esteem, achievement, educational attainment, and interracial attitudes.
Describe the effects of television and video games on children in terms of the number of hours spent watching TV and playing video games and the content to which children are exposed.
Define what is referred to as magic window thinking.
Summarize the positive (cognitive and language development, prosocial behavior) and negative effects (perception bias, displacement of other activities, stereotypes, aggression, desensitization, sexuality) of television and video games.
Describe the ways parents can modify the negative effects of television.
Summarize the effects of Internet activity on identity formation, social relationships, sexual risks, and mental health.
Discuss the effects of cell phone usage on social interaction.
Student Handout 9-1 Chapter Summary Role of Schools in Social Development
Schools have an informal agenda of socializing children by teaching them the rules, norms, and values they need to make their way in society and helping them develop the skills to interact successfully with their peers.
Schools are communities of teachers, students, and staff. Children who develop a sense of community in school do better socially and have lower rates of violence and drug use; they are also less likely to drop out of school.
In small schools, children are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities and less likely to drop out than in large schools.
Making the transition from elementary school to middle school or from middle school to high school can affect children’s self-esteem negatively.
Children in single-gender schools do better academically and perhaps socially than children in coeducational schools, perhaps because of differences in the characteristics of the schools and the parents who select them.
In small classes, teacher-child contacts are more frequent and personalized and children are better behaved, interact more with their peers, and are less likely to be victimized.
Elementary school children in open classrooms have more varied social contacts, develop more positive attitudes toward school, and show more self-reliance and cooperation in learning situations. High school students in open classrooms participate more in school activities, have more varied social relationships, and create fewer disciplinary problems.
Cooperative learning involves small groups of students working together. This classroom technique has a positive effect on children’s self-esteem, concerned feelings about peers, willingness to help, and enjoyment of school.
Peer tutoring in which an older, more experienced student tutors a younger child has benefits for both the tutor and the pupil, but tutors usually gain more. They benefit in self-esteem and status, and they derive satisfaction from helping others.
Children whose relationship with the teacher is close and warm have high levels of school adjustment and are likely to be accepted by their peers . Minority children are especially likely to benefit from close teacher-child ties.
Children are likely to succeed academically and socially when teachers expect them to do so, demonstrating a self-fulfilling prophecy or “Pygmalion effect.”
Teachers have less positive expectations for poor and minority children.
When parents are involved in their children’s school, the children tend to do better, especially if the parents’ involvement includes communicating expectations to teachers and communicating the value of education to children.
Children in high-quality after-school programs have better emotional adjustment, better peer relationships, better conflict resolution skills, and less delinquency than latchkey children.
Children from integrated schools feel safer and more satisfied and develop more positive interracial attitudes than children from segregated schools.
Children with frequent, good-quality contact with a natural mentor have fewer behavior problems, higher self-esteem, more positive attitudes toward school, and higher educational attainment.
Mentoring programs lead to modest gains in social, emotional, behavioral, and academic development from early childhood to adolescence, especially when youth have preexisting difficulties or are from disadvantaged backgrounds and mentors and mentees “click.”
Television and Video Games
Television viewing is a major influence on children’s social behavior. Viewing begins early in life and increases until adolescence.
Children watch a variety of programs, including cartoons, situation comedies, family-oriented programs, and educational shows. Boys watch more action-adventure and sports programs; girls prefer social dramas and soap operas.
Very young children display magic window thinking in which they do not distinguish between TV or video game fantasy and reality.
Programs that teach children about social rules and expectations, such as Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, have positive effects on children’s prosocial behavior.
Negative effects of television and video games include biasing children’s perceptions; children who are extensive TV viewers tend to overestimate the degree of danger and crime in the world and underestimate people’s trustworthiness and helpfulness.
TV and perhaps video games curtail children’s social interactions and activities such as sports and clubs.
TV portrayals of minority groups often support ethnic stereotypes.
TV demean women.
Exposure to violent TV and video games leads to desensitization and increased aggression.
Exposure to sexually suggestive media fare leads to more acceptance of sexuality, earlier sexual activity, and higher rates of pregnancy.
TV increases sexualization of women.
TV advertising influences children’s consumer choices, especially preferences for food and toys that may be either unhealthy or dangerous.
Parents can modify the effects of media viewing by serving as interpreters of media messages and as managers of access to programs and games.
Boys are more likely to be heavy gamers and access more sexual material than girls.
The Internet is a new venue for maintaining social ties and forming new, albeit weaker, ties as well as for exploring identities.
Children are exposed to pornography and other adult sexual material—often inadvertently— which can cause anxiety and upset. Internet chat rooms offer teens the opportunity to explore sexual issues and feelings.
The Internet can affect children’s and adolescents’ mental health, especially by online harassment. It can also foster exchange of information between individuals with problems, such as self-injurious behavior.
Cell Phone Connections
Cell phones foster social connections with peers across time and space; they may become “addictive”—if children think they can’t live without them—or dangerous—if children use them for sexting.
Student Handout 9-2 Key Terms GLOSSARY TERMS
A teaching technique in which small groups of students work together.
The process by which people show diminished emotional reaction to a stimulus or event.
Youngsters who must let themselves into their homes after school because their parents are working outside the home.
magic window thinking
The tendency of very young children to believe that television images are as real as real-life people and objects.
People beyond the nuclear family such as extended family members, family friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, afterschool program staff, and religious group leaders who provide support and guidance to children and youth.
A relatively unstructured organization in which different areas of the room are devoted to particular activities and children work either alone or in small groups under the teacher’s supervision.
A phenomenon in which teachers’ expectations that students will do well are realized.
Positive or negative expectations that affect a person’s behavior so that he or she (unknowingly) creates situations in which those expectations are fulfilled.
The degree to which the environment supports a child’s developmental needs.
OTHER IMPORTANT TERMS IN THIS CHAPTER
fantasy-reality distinction for TV viewers
schools within schools
Practice Exam Questions Answers are given at the end of the questions. Pages in the text relating to each question are given in parentheses () at the end of the question. MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS
Larger school size is associated with: (a) more extracurricular participation (b) lower dropout rates (c) less extracurricular participation (d) a greater sense of belonging to the school community (265)
The degree to which the environment supports a child’s developmental needs is called: (a) developmental soundness (b) age-appropriateness (c) temporal-need concordance (d) stage-environment fit (266)
Which of the following is accurate regarding single-gender schools: (a) single-gender schools are not currently legal (b) single-gender schools appear to increase gender-typed behaviors and interests (c) enrollment in single gender schools appears to reduce self-confidence and self-esteem (d) none of the above (266)
Which of the following are accurate regarding parents’ involvement in their child’s education: (a) about 50 percent of U.S. school children have parents who attend at least one school or class event during the school year (b) parents are equally likely to participate in school activities regardless of the child’s age (c) when parents attend parent-teacher conferences or join the PTA, the children tend to do better academically and socially (d) SES and family structure do not affect parental involvement in their child’s education (272)
Working parents who cannot be with their children in the hours after school: (a) are generally unaware of the risks (b) have no way to monitor their children’s activities (c) often use after school programs as an alternative to self-care (d) all of the above (273-274)
Children watch more TV if their family is: (a) single parent (b) affluent (c) European American (d) Asian American (277)
Which of the following is true regarding television’s effects? (a) children learn specific prosocial content from the programs they watch (b) children are unable to generalize what they learn to their own interactions with peers (c) children do not derive additional benefit from having their parents watch the programs with them (d) children have difficulty learning prosocial lessons from TV (280)
Which of the following is true regarding the degree to which television portrays sex: (a) TV programming emphasizes a recreational orientation to sex (b) TV programming does not make people more likely to view women as sex objects (c) TV programming does not make people more likely to endorse sex-stereotyped attitudes (d) TV programming does not make people more likely to engage in sexual behavior (282)
Which of the following is true regarding the degree to which television advertising influences children: (a) advertising has not been related to children’s level of materialism (b) advertising has not been related to older children’s requests for toys, CDs, clothes, and computer games (c) children who watch more TV ask Santa for more toys, especially toys they saw advertised on TV (d) only adolescents who have their own financial resources are affected by TV ads (283)
Which of the following is an established gender difference in Internet use? (a) boys are more likely to be consumers of sexually explicit images than girls (b) boys are more likely to download illegal content than girls (c) boys and girls are equally likely to be heavy gamers (d) boys use text messaging more than girls (289)
Experimental work on friendship formation over the Internet shows that: (a) the relative anonymity of the Internet reduces the risks inherent in self-disclosure (b) with online friends, adolescents find it harder to express their true selves (c) adolescents report liking new acquaintances less if they meet over the Internet than if they meet in person (d) none of the above (288)
Which of the following is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics? (a) children under the age of 2 should not be allowed to watch TV (b) older children should be permitted televisions in their bedrooms (c) all parents should buy and use a V-chip (d) children should only watch TV when with their parents (276)
ESSAY QUESTIONS 1. Describe 4 ways in which the Internet has a positive effect on children’s social relationships. (287-288)
2. Discuss the school as a social community. (264)
3. Has school desegregation worked? What are the benefits of integration for children’s social relationships? (273)
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