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Children's Wellbeing in the Media Age

Children's Wellbeing in the Media Age

Multidisciplinary Perspectives from the Harvard-Australia Symposium

Edited by Elizabeth Handsley, Colin MacDougall and Michael Rich


Children, from infancy through adolescence, now spend more time consuming media content than they do in school, with parents or engaging in any activity other than sleep. Parents, educators, and policy-makers are concerned, confused and overwhelmed, since the media we use and how we use them influence virtually every aspect of our lives.

The Harvard-Australia Symposium on Media Use and Children’s Wellbeing dared to tackle the problem as a whole by convening psychologists with specialties in child development, violence, advertising, body image and sleep; a human ecologist; a filmmaker; a couple of ethicists; a librarian; a social worker and a nutritionist to join a paediatrician, a lawyer and a public health researcher to address the question of how media use influences children’s wellbeing. The project compared and contrasted disciplinary frameworks and methodologies used, and the strengths and limitations of each, to open up a conversation about how they might complement and synergise with each other. Participants expanded their horizons by breaking down the academic silos and learning from one another. The discussion covered issues from sexualisation of children in the media, violent video games, social networking, food advertising, preschool television, the fashion industry and body image, to distressing content on the news.

The Symposium acknowledged that media are so integrated into our lives that we cannot fully understand or effectively address the health and development of digital natives with anything but an multidisciplinary approach. The resulting conversation was fascinating and energising, engaging readers from any background to appreciate the differences, the commonalities and the ways in which these diverse perspectives complement each other to develop strategies for maximising the benefits and minimising the risks of media use.


Notes on Contributors

1.  Introduction
           Elizabeth Handsley

Part 1
2.  Applying the Ecological Model of Human Development to the Study of Media’s Effects on Children
           David S Bickham
3.  A Citizen-Child Lens on the Media, Health and Wellbeing
           Colin MacDougall
4.  An Action Research Model of Media Production
           Alison Wotherspoon (in conversation with Elizabeth Handsley)

Part 2
5.  (Applied) Ethics
           Emma Rush
6.  Bioethics
           John McMillan
7.  Paediatrics
           Michael Rich
8.  Social Work
           AR Mubarak
9.  Librarianship and Information Collection
           Barbara Biggins
10. (Media) Law
           Elizabeth Handsley
11. Public Health Nutrition
           Kaye Mehta

Part 3
12. Developmental Psychology
           C Glenn Cupit
13. The Study of Aggressive Behaviour
           Wayne A Warburton
14. The Study of Marketing to Children
           Julie Robinson
15. The Study of Body Image
           Marika Tiggemann
16. Sleep Psychology
           Sarah Blunden
17. Conclusion
           Michael Rich



Published 30 July 2015
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781760020286
Australian RRP $59.95
International Price $55.00
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