Popular Media and Impact on Families

By: Tonya Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, CHFI, CFE, PI

Have you explained to your kids the meaning of Christmas? What about Santa Clause or Saint Nick? Well, to be honest, I haven’t. And, Father Time did not wait for me to get my act together. My son cried last night while I tucked him in. It looks like the Gosselin situation spread from Pennsylvania to Virginia in real time. Upon reflection, this incident reminds me of the time my six year old niece in describing mating to my eight year old son, beat me to the punch.

Researchers point to definitive studies to claim that the media impacts family values and changes our view of family structure and communication. Albada (2000) found that real-life family expectations, values and relationships are affected by fictional and/or real life televised portrayals of family interactions. Further, she argued that participants in her study reported that television was ‘capable of influencing their beliefs about what exists, what is normal, what is right, and how they should behave in families.

As this report was published in 2000 before the manic popularization of reality tv, it would be interesting to know how all of this presently plays out. One thing is clear, we can no longer operate in a vacuum, be overly protective in an attempt to shelter our kids from harm and/or the truth. In speaking the truth, perhaps that is the best protection of all. For me though, I still want to believe in the miraculous, to have faith in that which is bigger, grander than I. Am I wrong for wanting my son to do desire the same?

Literary Resources

Albada, K. F. (2000). The public and private dialogue about the American family on television. Journal of Communication, 50, 79-110.