Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ill Effects on Children

          Barker and Petley's Introduction from Ill Effects discusses so-called dangers of the media that they have seen other researchers try to come up with.  They discuss ill- effects people fear, sparked by the Newson report.  I found the part "Thinking About Children" particularly of interest.  Barker and Petley report that the media sometimes has "phrases about the need to protect children"(Barker and Petley 5).  They further go on to note how adults are so concerned with protecting an idealized version of childhood that "the imagination of the child is conceived as the past and future utopia of the adult" (6).  I think its interesting how they note that adults are consumed with protecting children from dangers in the media, especially when the reason they do this is to create an innocent childhood, which they themselves probably did not experience.

         I work for a children's celebrity fan website, called and the whole point of the website is to create a safe experience for kids to experience the internet that parents should supposedly approve.  One of my main tasks as an intern is to manually approve anything a child publishes on the site to make sure it is clean.  I have to make sure there is no foul language and determine what is appropriate for a child on the internet to read.  The website features its own youtube content and focuses on teen age celebrities.  Parents allow their children to use this media as they believe is is safe for their children and want their kids to experience a childhood with "natural innocence"(6).  Parents are so concerned with their children's possibility of a corrupted innocence by experiencing ill effects of the media that sites such as this exist.  In reality, many sites that are child protected exist in order to protect children.


  1. I took a class in England this summer titled "Visions of Childhood," and although it focused on the portrayal of children in popular media we talked at lengths about censorship and parental guidance of media. As Barker and Petley point out, a lot of the concern with violent or inappropriate media for children comes from adults' need to protect what they think the perfect childhood should be. This is especially true with the introduction of mass media such as the television, because now that everyone's children are watching the same things, a clear children's culture has emerged and become an easy target for criticism. I do agree that sometimes parents can be overbearing and try to protect a childhood innocence that no longer exists today, but I think parents should be careful with what media they allow their children to consume. I too work at and think websites designed for children are a good thing. Because kids today are so well versed with the internet they will use it for entertainment, so if safe sites didn't exist (my favorite site when I was little was neopets! who knows how safe that actually was) they could stumble upon some "dangerous" stuff.

  2. I agree with the above comment that some degree of protection IS necessary when it comes to media exposure. The section about children and thinking about children from this chapter was the one section I had the most mixed feelings about in response to reading it. It seemed to me a little like the writers were being somewhat dismissive of the constant cry to protect the children, which is, I believe, a legitimate and needed cry. I also felt that their claim that the "whole discourse is not about real, live children but about a conception of childhood" is a stretch, and seems unfounded/lacking solid backup or evidence. Ultimately I think what it comes down to is not that all media content is regulated for the sake of protecting children, but that access/availability is regulated so that, as the poster and commenter have mentioned above, children/young teens can consume media in a safe online environment.

  3. Great conversation going here about childhood and media effects. I think B&P are trying to argue that real children are not completely impressionistic, blank-slate humanoids with no capacity to judge or weigh media--in other words, the ideal of childhood innocence (that must be protected) too often seems to rely on an overly simplistic view of children. That's not to say that protections aren't in order, but we should realize that such moral panics and outrages have been common throughout history, and that children have been subject to very different paradigms of household roles, labor, and development over time. One of the articles I like to teach touches on this: Cassell and Cramer's "High Tech or High Risk" (particularly about the worries over young girls going online and the danger of sexual predation).