Date of Award

Fall 1998

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

O'Neill, Patrick

Second Advisor

Havice, Michael

Third Advisor

Ksobiech, Kenneth

Abstract

Somebody once told me that today's children are the leaders of tomorrow. This one simple statement got me thinking about what I could do to help these children prepare for their future roles as a functioning member in society. As a student in broadcasting, I know too well how powerful a medium television has become, and how its usage has changed over the years. Children now use television as a source of recreation, and some families almost use television as a babysitter to keep their child out of trouble. For many hours at a time, some children sit in front of the television set, absorbing whatever programs, commercials, or news come across the tube. I began to wonder how parents could let their children spend endless hours watching shows which will not help them at all in the future. These concerns formed the foundation for my thesis. I had many goals as I began to examine how closely parents monitor their children's television viewing. Perhaps more information could be learned about how and when parents do monitor television programming. In addition, some perceptions of parents could be proven incorrect, which might spawn some future research in this area. If published, industry officials might realize the extent that parents get involved in the television viewing process, and make more efforts to curve what they broadcast. Discovering more about today's children could also help future educators discover new ways to reach out to their students and help them learn. A survey was sent out to parents at three Milwaukee Public schools. Questions covered a variety of areas. Some questions focused on how these parents monitored the television viewing in their home. These questions aimed to discover how active parents are and how knowledgeable they are about activities in their home. Other questions shifted the focus off of these parents, making them consider how other parents monitored television. Extra attention was also given to newer technologies, such as the television ratings and V-chip, which were produced with the intent of helping parents in the television monitoring process. The goals I set are pretty high, but I see this project as only a beginning. My objective is to take a look at today's family, how involved parents are when it comes to monitoring their children, and how much television plays a role in family life. Parents and children will continue changing, as will television. I only hope that television does not cause any damage or harm to future families. We have to remember to protect the leaders of tomorrow.

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