Date of Award

Fall 1997

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Thorn, William

Second Advisor

Leslie, Lauren

Third Advisor

Hubbard, Francis A.


Immersed in a world of mass media, today's children absorb impressions, ideas, images, and sounds on a daily basis that, in sum, constitute an unstructured and unpredictable education about "how the world works." Consciously designed to appeal and hold attention, entertainment programs present images of heroes and villains, desirable and undesirable behaviors, and stories laden with values and insights into human nature. Advertisements, skillfully designed and tested to motivate and persuade, expose these same children to a perspective on human life shaped exclusively from a consumption philosophy: buying is the solution to any and every ailment. This dissertation seeks an understanding of the dynamic process through which media influence children in order to establish a theoretical foundation for media literacy education. Such a theoretical foundation can lead future scholars toward a comprehensive theory of media literacy, which is beyond the scope of this work. Media literacy can be understood as both an essential skill and a self protection in a mass mediated world. Media literacy is necessary in order to make best use of the amazingly bountiful content of media. It is equally essential to protect oneself against manipulation and deception. Media literacy is essential to development of a critical awareness regarding media content and the forces which underlie media's inviting and engaging exterior. Australia and Canada have long been in the forefront of formalized media education. The Australian states all have had longstanding, active programs of media education in their curricula since the 1980s and in 1990 they instituted a revised curriculum requiring media education in both primary and secondary schools. But media education never gained more than a slim foothold in the United States. Despite 20 years of media education, no theoretical , foundation has yet been laid for formal media education. This dissertation seeks to lay that foundation...



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