PoliticalEconomy of Childhood: Children’s Media
PoliticalEconomy of Childhood: Children’s Media
Children’sgeography has progressed especially in academics, and it has beendiscovered that the day to day lives of children had been ignored.Children are considered as a social group and therefore they havecertain common or similar characteristics that can be considered bothpolitically and morally critical [ CITATION Jac05 l 1033 ].Attempts have been made in recent years to grasp the globalizingworld which is accompanied by the transnational flow of information,items, and people. In this setting, how do new forms of global andlocal media affect the young? And how do children themselves react,understand, and repel or restructure the complex, frequentlydifferent media varieties that inform their daily lives? This paperlooks at the various aspects of the current global media cultureabout shifting discourses on childhood and to alternating events andexperiences of children.
Literaryrepresentation has identified children as a distinct group andchildhood as a separate domain, separated from the everyday life ofadult society. The undeveloped nature of children is a biologicalfact of life, but the ways in which this ignorance is understood andmade meaningful is a fact of culture. Attacks on the space ofchildhood as an ideally safe, and innocent domain have been observedin recent years. The uncontrolled, market-driven, and worldwidepropagated media images have invaded the family homes. With thisinvasion came a loss of childhood innocence and it has been arguedthat the global media has made it diminish. There is no sufficienttheory at hand, however, to understand and explain the status of thepresent crisis in the study of childhood, or the experience ofchildren. Nevertheless, we are currently witnessing the remarkablere-conceptualization of the “child,” and “childhood,” withinthe perspective of global media culture [ CITATION Jac05 l 1033 ].
Televisionand mass media have changed the lifestyle of the families in manycountries by introducing the type of culture in the midst of whichsits advertising. There is a tight association between the social andcultural identity construction and the procurement and consumption ofcultural products which are advertised on TV. Societies globally haveexperienced Information technology innovations and subsequentglobalization of mass media practices. It is now asking us to have akeener outlook of how the existing generation of children and youthare being generated within a society in which new media plays anecessary role in constructing multiple and diverse socialidentities. The role of the children’s TV programs in creating new“childhood” is quite significant. In contrast with “popularculture,” which portrays popularity as authentic and suggests theactive role for audiences in selecting and understandingentertainments, “mass culture” signals the mixture of culturethat has complemented the expansion of media, and implies thestrength of the culture industries to design audiences and sectionsof consumers [ CITATION Jac05 l 1033 ].
Inmany countries, Sunday morning has quickly become “children’s TVhours”. Many TV channels now have children’s programs during thehours of 7:30-10:00 am, and most of them are children’s animationprograms, movies, and cartoons. Now, children are expected to befound in front of the TV sets in the Sunday mornings, and that is the“standard” scene of the family life. People seem to have alreadyfailed to recall that, only several years ago children were usuallyfound occupied playing outside with other children even before themorning meals. The outlook of family life has changed considerably,and the TV set in the living room of the emerging urban middle-classfamily home has played the important role in it. Similarly, childrenmovies and music dominate the contemporary household. In the midst ofall these forms of media, the commercials advertise mostly softdrinks, snacks, and some other items which are now seen as children’sstuff for example soft drinks, milk, Nestle, tomato ketchup, cereal,candy among others. The media, therefore, reflects, like the mirror,the daily life of the audience/children and gives reassurance to them[ CITATION Jac05 l 1033 ].
Thenumber of mobile phones, computers, video games, video cameras andinternet connection has also dramatically increased. Apparently, thechildren’s ownership of media and access to new technologies. Whilethese means of media technology may have adverse impacts in theshaping of the children’s culture, there are implications thatthere are positive outcomes associated with the exposure to massmedia. Young children are engaged in practices associating to popularculture, media and new developments from birth. They are living in atechnological world and develop a broad range of skills, knowledgeand understanding of this world from delivery. Parents and otherfamily members support this learning, either implicitly orexplicitly, and children participate in family social and culturalapplications which develop their apprehension of the role of mediaand technology in society
Thereis now a requirement for educators to respond to the problems thispresents by developing a learning system and pedagogy which enablechildren to build on their digital funds of knowledge and providethem with chances to engage fully with the technological, social andcultural demands of the knowledge economy. Not to do so is to subjectour youngest children to a learning system which, although successfulin organizing children for meetings with the written word on paper,is not yet as effective in ensuring that they are adept with themultimodal, multimedia texts and activities which permeate everydaylife [ CITATION Jac05 l 1033 ].TV commercials create and define needs of the audience, and thus theaudience themselves. They tell the audience what they need anddesire, and thus set up and develop the group of people who havesimilar needs andinterests. In the case of the children’s programs, commercialscreate the group of individuals who are observed as children whoutilize the children’s programs and commodities. Something hasoccurred because of the advertising-based TV practices. Thatsomething is the impression of children and childhood as consumers.
Somepeople have suggested that media education should be incorporatedinto the school curriculum most people think this should begin fromwhen kids are little. Parents also welcome further work in schools onnew technologies. They feel that this is needed to prepare childrenfor the demands of the new technological age. Early year’spractitioners express positive attitudes towards the role of popularculture, media and new technologies in children’s growth anddevelopment, including demonstrating positive attitudes towards theiruse of video/console games. However, there are concerns about theperceived amount of time children spend on these activities. Themajority of early childhood practitioners have used popular cultureto promote learning in the communications, language and literacycurriculum at least occasionally. There is a less extensive use ofmedia and new technologies. More professional development on the useof ICT, media and popular culture to promote learning in thefoundation stage has been encouraged. There is a disparity in theprovision of resources for work on media and new technologies inmaintained and non-maintained settings. Practitioners based inmaintained settings have reported being better equipped withtechnological hardware and software than professionals based innon-maintained settings. The introduction of popular culture, mediaand new technologies into the communications, language, and literacycurriculum has a good effect on the motivation and engagement ofchildren in learning. It has a positive impact on children’sprogress in speaking and listening and literacy [ CITATION Jac05 l 1033 ].
Asmass media have come to take over many socializing functions of thefamily, they have offered us depictions of the family which would actas touchstones by which we measure our daily experiences. Seductivelyrealistic descriptions of family life in the media, especially on TVscreen watched in one’s living room at home, may be the platformfor our most shared and pervasive perceptions and beliefs about whatis considered normal and what is right. Nothing is more politicallyand culturally convincing than the media that can make people embracewhat is accepted and what is moral, without ever being recognized bythe fact of being facilitated. In the TV adverts, children aredepicted as happy smiling consumers of snacks, drinks, and othercommodities of comfort and indulgence. The family joy is representedas the way of consumption. There needs to be further attention paidto the needs of early year’s practitioners concerning subjectknowledge and pedagogical content knowledge in the consumption ofmedia and new technologies. Professional development materials andprograms which address these regions need to be developed andpropagated if older years settings are to create curricula whichrespond to the needs of the new media age. Non-maintained settingsneed to be upheld in the acquisition and use of technologicalhardware and software, although this is the case for all parametersabout some technologies (i.e. digital cameras, video cameras,interactive whiteboards). Given the findings concerning parentalknowledge of, and support for, children’s use of media, popularculture and new technologies, family literacy learning programs needto draw on these aspects of families’ cultures to ensure relevanceand enhance interest.
Jackie, M. G. (2005). Digital Beginnings: Young Children’s use of Popular Culture, Media and New Technologies. Sheffield: Literacy Research Center.