What little is known about the messages about child-rearing that reach parents fromentertainment programming is mixed, partly reassuring, partly troubling. Content analysesdocument what we know anecdotally: entertainment programming, in particular family sitcomsand films, portray dozens of parent-child interactions every hour. While depictions of family lifeare in many ways positive, concerns are widely shared about such issues as theunderrepresentation of many cultural groups; stereotypical portrayals of gender roles; depictionsof young children as needing little care and supervision (in part because the children servelargely as "props" for the adult interactions); and the depiction of parents as solving familyproblems quickly, easily, and in isolation from any support system. Research is urgently neededto analyze further the messages conveyed by entertainment media about parenting and familylife, to assess the impact of those messages on parents, and to explore the potential forinfluencing those messages in positive ways, using initiatives that have been effective inpromoting other important social issues, such as immunization and drunk driving.
Although little direct research has been done specifically on the effects of the media on parents,inferences can be drawn from theory, related research, and professional experience. Together,they make a strong case that the media--including both informational and entertainment media--have important influences, in conjunction with other forces and strategies, on parents' attitudesand behaviors about child-rearing. The media, in other words, are potentially an important toolin supporting and informing parents.
Information about the importance of parenting and of particular parenting practices will only beas effective as its dissemination. Carefully planned and executed communications initiatives areneeded to ensure that, as it emerges, new information reaches parents, as well as media,advocates, policy makers, and practitioners who work with parents, such as parenting educators,health care providers, early childhood educators, teachers, and mental health providers. Anumber of characteristics would be important to the success of such initiatives, including theircoordination with the many existing media projects that target parents and families.
It is inevitable to ignore the fact that nowadays social network plays an essential role in teenagers’ lives. Most youths are spending at least an hour in these popular social media sites. Generally, 1 out of 7 minutes which are spent online by most of those who can access internet is spent on Facebook according to Shea Bennett. One may ask how spending all that time on the social media sites may have a positive impact on them. Well, social media helps the youth and any other user updated with what is happening around the world, help the teenagers stay connected and interact with each other even if they are many miles apart. This strengthens their relationship even if they finished school and moved to different locations they stay connected and update one another.
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The stage is set, in other words, to take media initiatives in parenting education to a higher level,one that influences underlying social and parental attitudes, reaches broader audiences, setspriorities around particular social needs, engages in more self-reflection and analysis, tapsexisting knowledge more effectively, and addresses consciously and comprehensively the criticalneeds of children, parents, and families. I look forward very much to the discussion, and toworking together on these important issues.
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Within these initiatives, special attention also needs to be paid to the areas in which there are gapsin current media efforts. This can be accomplished by designing and implementing specialinitiatives to address key issues, including (1) targeting parents who are not effectively reachedby current media efforts, including harder-to-reach parents and parents of adolescents; (2)researching more extensively the impact of current messages in both informational andentertainment media, as well as ways to introduce more positive effects, especially inentertainment media; and (3) creating a permanent resource center to make informationaccessible to the media and others in an ongoing way.
The scope of the project was defined to include media activities for which parents and others inparenting roles were specifically designated as a target audience. Projects were not included forwhich the primary audience was children, although it was clearly acknowledged that parents arean important audience for children's media, as monitors and mediators of their children'sexperience, as the ultimate target of much of the advertising and many of the messages inchildren's media, and as the family members most likely to experience and influence any mediaeffects on children's behavior. It was further acknowledged that some children's and familyprograms, such as , offer powerful models for healthy caregivingbehavior, and that parents sometimes report watching them for this very purpose. Finally, it wasacknowledged that the presence of the media profoundly influences family patterns ofinteraction, by virtue of the quantity of their daily consumption by children and parents, aloneand together, and by their presence as "background noise" in family life.
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Yet little attention has been given to the quantity or quality of those messages, or to their impacton parents or parenting. Similarly, little attention has been given to the opportunities offered bythe media to have greater and more positive impact on parents at a time when, by all accounts,such support is badly needed.