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Socialization by the Media

Amy I. Nathanson


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The mass media can play a significant role in shaping the social attitudes and social behaviors of children and adolescents. These effects are distinct from more general media effects that do not involve attitudes toward or behaviors with others, such as purchasing behaviors or learning educational content (→  Advertising as Persuasion ; Educational Television, Children's Responses to; Sesame Street ). Although parents exert the most influence on children, the mass media can be considered secondary agents of socialization . Research has found that mass media use, especially exposure to television, can affect the development of children's self-image, attitudes toward others, and interpersonal behaviors. Researchers also have studied the role of media in youth's development of political attitudes and behaviors. When children view television, they compare themselves to characters and situations and form assessments of themselves. Usually, the effect on children's self-image is negative. For example, viewing of advertisements is related to lower self-esteem and depression among children who come from low-income families. It is likely that children feel bad about themselves because they cannot have the products that are advertised on television. The link between television exposure and self-image also is evident among adolescents (→  Exposure to Television ). Research ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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