New article on how parents mediate the media


“Parental mediation theory for the digital age” is an article in this month’s journal Communication Theory. It’s meant to update communication theories about how parents are mediating the media, now that digital and mobile media have become firmly entrenched in family life. Specifically it argues that with digital media, young people can contribute to family life in ways that weren’t possible before, and we need to take account of how children aren’t just vulnerable to media effects but are also co-contributors to our lives together with and through digital and mobile media. Here is the more academic version of the article’s abstract:

This article describes the theory of parental mediation, which has evolved to consider how parents utilize interpersonal communication to mitigate the negative effects that they believe communication media have on their children. I discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this theory as employed in the sociopsychologically rooted media effects literature as well as sociocultural ethnographic research on family media uses. To account for the emotional work that digital media have introduced into contemporary family life, I review interpersonal communication scholarship based on sociologist A. R. Hochschild’s (1977, 1989) work on emotions, and suggest L. Vygotsky’s (1978) social development theory as a means of rethinking the role of children’s agency in the interactions between parents and children that new media affords. The article concludes by suggesting that in addition to the strategies of active, restrictive, and co-viewing as parental mediation strategies, future research needs to consider the emergent strategy of participatory learning that involves parents and children interacting together with and through digital media.

Full citation and where it’s available online:
Clark, L.S. Parental mediation theory for the digital age. Communication Theory 21(4): 323-343.

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