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Effects of Television, Internet on Children the Focus of Textbook

KEENE, N.H. 10/3/03 - In her new textbook Children, Teens, Families, and Mass Media: The Millennial Generation, Rose Kundanis, professor of journalism at Keene State College, draws from numerous studies that describe the relationships between children and the media.

The book, which is written for graduate and undergraduate college students, focuses on the “millennial generation,” children who graduated from high school in 2000, and who have been exposed to tremendous changes in mass media over their lives, including “as it happens” news reports, increased violence in television shows, and the Internet.

Leaving children to fend for themselves in front of the television or online is not a good option, said Kundanis. In one study she reviewed, children under eight years old were unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality. In a 22-year study on children exposed to violence on television, researchers were able to predict which participants, all male, would be aggressive and would probably commit serious crimes by age 30. Another study described that while children learn television-viewing habits from their parents, the parents have not taken full advantage of the opportunity to teach their youngsters good viewing habits.

In Children, Teens, Families, and Mass Media: The Millennial Generation, Kundanis provides a theoretical context for how children perceive and make sense of media messages, paying attention to developmental, gender, ethnic, and generational differences between children. Kundanis also examines children’s perceptions of fantasy and reality and how exposure to violence and sexual messages may have effects well beyond childhood. In the last part of the book, Kundanis reviews the roles parents, policy and lawmakers, and television programmers play in monitoring and regulating media for children.

The idea for the book, which took four years to complete, originally came from a Keene State student in a course that Kundanis taught on children and the media. The text also contains many interviews conducted by Kundanis with teens that work in media and people who develop policy or programming for children’s media.

Children, Teens, Families, and Mass Media: The Millennial Generation (2003) is published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. For more information, contact Rose Kundanis, professor of journalism, at 603-358-2402.

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