Mass media—newspapers, magazines, comic books, radio, video games, movies, and especially television—present a very different form of socialization than any other, because they offer no opportunity for interaction. Television is an influence on children from a very young age and affects their cognitive and social development (Elkind, 2007;Wright et al., 2001).
Television is the medium with the greatest socialization effect, surpassing all the other media by far in its influence on the young child. The very fact that television is not an interactive agent is greatly significant to the development of young children. While watching, children have the feeling that they’re interacting, but they’re not. That’s one of the disadvantages of television as a socializer—it satisfies social needs to some extent, but doesn’t give children the social skills (or the real-life practice in those skills) that allow them to function effectively with people. Since the average child watches 3 to 4 hours of television a day, the time left for playing with others and learning social skills is drastically reduced. Even infants average about an hour and a half of television viewing a day between the time they are born and age 2 (Wright et al., 2001).
Of course, parents can control the time their children spend watching television, but many don’t. They can monitor the selection of programs, but some allow their children to watch whatever happens to be on. Some parents don’t consider how they can use television to teach decision making. They don’t make children aware that when one program ends they can either weigh the various merits of the next offerings or turn the set off. Some children, especially those with a remote control in hand, flick through the channels periodically, randomly stopping at whatever catches their interest at the moment. That’s very different from critically examining options and consciously deciding on one. This is where parent education could be effective. Some parents who grew up with television themselves haven’t given much thought to the effects of that medium, and how to decrease these effects.
Children learn through watching television. Some of the things they learn are beneficial; others are not. They learn about the world and the ways of the society. They learn something about occupations, for example, getting an idea about what a nurse does, what a doctor does, and how the two relate to each other. They learn about the institutions of the society—what goes on in court, for example. They learn the language to go with these roles and settings—and they learn some language you’d rather they didn’t know!
Children also learn about current themes and issues, both from newscasts and dramas—issues such as kidnapping, the homeless, and the spread of AIDS. Most of these issues and themes are not happy ones, and many are very frightening, especially when children watch programs that are intended for adults.
Children learn more than facts from television; they also get a good daily dose of stereotypes and a lot of misleading information about their world. Most of all, they get a big helping of violence and another of commercial advertising.
Excerpt from Child, Family, and Community: Family-Centered Early Care and Education, by J. Gonzalez-Mena, 2009 edition, p. 335-336.
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Agents Of Socialization Essay
Agents of socialization in short are the people, groups, and social institutions, as well as the interactions within these groups that influence a person’s social and self-development. Agents of socialization are believed to provide the critical information needed for children to function successfully as a member of society. Some examples of such agents are family, neighborhood, schools, peers, religion, sports, the workplace, and especially the mass media. Each agent of socialization is linked to another. For example, in the media, symbolic images affect both the individual and the society, making the mass media the most controversial socialization agent. One of the most obvious places agents of socialization lay is in the malls of America. Malls are filled with advertisements and consumed by the mass media touching on all levels of society.
No one is immune from the affect of the agents of socialization that exist in malls. Anyone and everyone who is part of a society is a product of socialization. Within every advertisement, clothing store, toy store, arcade, music store, etc, there is a gender preferred subliminal message being sent. The way toys are divided into male sections and female sections and the way advertisements portray all men and women in a certain way contribute to societies “norm” of gender roles. The mass media is one of the most influential agents of socialization and malls are surrounded by it. The messages given through the media act as the teachers of gender roles, values, ideologies, and beliefs, and individuals who pick up on these messages eventually take on, whats thought to be, the normative roles of society. Both boys and girls rely on society’s expectations in regard to both masculinity and femininity in order to interpret interaction and to develop expectations for themselves and those around them. It is because of these agents of socialization, that gender roles are created. Advertisements portray both men and women in characteristically stereotypical fashions that support the various institutions and socialization agents. The women depicted in these advertisements fit the stereotypical roles related to sexuality by focusing on beauty, body image, and physical attractiveness. They are skinny and tan, with teeth as white as paper and hair looking healthy and fresh. Girls in society look up to these women being portrayed in the posters as models of how they are supposed to be, and try to fit the “role” of being a woman; hence the reason anorexia, bulimia, depression etc is so common in teenagers. The men in these posters on the other hand are depicted as muscular, tan, strong, wealthy, and powerful, they too try to fit their “role” of manhood; hence the reasons there are so many violent teenage boys. They all think that being tough and strong is how they are supposed to be, and girls are depicted to be weak, dainty, and depended on males.
Going into different stores, one can easily...
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