Children's Comprehension of Television Messages

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Children's Comprehension of Television Messages The literature surveyed so far regarding children's attention to television has relied on observation of visual attention by the child viewers. Measures of visual attention alone do not provide an indication of what aspects of the message children are extracting from the television screen. In order to acquire indications of this, researchers have relied on post-viewing measures of children's recognition and recall of information from the program. This research will be considered in this section on children's understanding of television messages. Here the concern is not with what children are looking at and listening to, but what they remember from the TV and what meaning the TV content has for them. Much of the research which has adopted a cognitive developmental perspective on studies of children and television has examined children's comprehension of television messages. The underlying assumption of these studies is that children bring different cognitive abilities and social experiences to the TV-viewing situation and that these influence how children made sense of the messages. Younger children with more limited inference-making ability are more likely to focus on the consequences of actions rather than the motivations of the actors, and often are shown to construe the television plot line quite differently from children and adults. The way in which children construe meaning from television cannot be directly inferred from cognitive development theory. Cognitive development theory may aid us in describing how children make sense of television, but we should examine children's understanding of television directly. How, then, has cognitive development the... ... middle of paper ... ...hat appropriate learning materials will be developed to teach children about the medium of television, both its programming and advertising content. Such materials should help children overcome their misunderstandings of television messages. By improving the skills children bring to the viewing situation we may be able to moderate the impact television has on the child. NOTES The argument advanced here does not mean to imply, however, that children are as active when watching television as they are when engaged in athletics or doing other sorts of activities. Activity here is relative. Multidimensional scaling is a statistical technique that looks at how subject's ratings of a variety of variables group together; that is, it seeks to determine underlying dimensions which describe the relationship among a set of variables for a given group of subjects.
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