Mass Media and the Family

Adopted May 1974 – Revised October 2012 – Revised May 2018 – Health and Communications Commission

California State PTA recognizes that the mass media exert a powerful influence on American life and make a major impact on the education of children and youth in our culture.

California State PTA accepts the definition of mass media as a diversified collection of media technologies that reach a large audience via mass communication. The technologies through which this communication takes place include a variety of outlets:

  • Broadcast media transmit information electronically, via such media as film, radio, recorded music, or television;
  • Digital media comprises both internet and mobile mass communication, including such services as email, social media sites, websites, and Internet-based radio and television, as well as other outlets with a presence on the web by such means as linking to or running TV ads online, or distributing Quick Response (QR) Codes in outdoor or print media to direct mobile users to a website;
  • Outdoor media transmit information via such media as augmented reality (AR) advertising, billboards, blimps, flying billboards, or placards placed on kiosks, buses, buildings, shops, sports stadiums, subway cars, or trains;
  • Print media transmit information via physical objects, such as books, comics, magazines, newspapers, or pamphlets; and
  • Event organizing and public speaking can also be considered forms of mass media.

California State PTA recognizes that there are scientific studies, both in progress and completed, that examine the health risks associated with the use of mobile devices, computers, tablets, watches, and other devices. These studies include behavioral (social-emotional and addictive) and physiological (radiation) risks related to the amount of use by various age groups. While consensus is not complete on the risk levels at different ages, avoiding/minimizing these health risks at pre-adult ages is a prudent response endorsed by California State PTA. Recommended responses include:

  • Daily time limits on the use of screen-based technologies;
  • Storage of cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other devices at a distance from the users;
  • Use of Earphones and stand-alone speakers; and
  • Time and frequency limits on the use of addictive media.

California State PTA urges parents to understand the potential dangers of social media and to discuss the issues with their children. PTA encourages parents to:

  • Guide their children in the choice of media products when selecting material for viewing, listening, reading, or entertainment;
  • Teach their children how to evaluate what they see, read and hear;
  • Teach their children that many people on social media are not who they say they are and that they should not interact with strangers online;
  • Be aware there are federal, state and local laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of obscene and/or pornographic materials to minors, and to inform the proper authorities when it appears these laws are being violated;
  • Be knowledgeable about the availability of, and have the skills to use, tools to restrict access to media they find inappropriate for their children;
  • Monitor their children’s usage of social media, gaming sites, and access to inappropriate material on the internet;
  • Discuss the dangers of revealing personal information on social media;
  • Teach their children the risks of posting photographs online.  Among other risks, the data contained in photos can be used to locate the exact geographic location of where the photo was taken;
  • Stay involved in order to help guide tweens and teens to remain safe and mentally healthy;
  • Teach their children the permanence of social media postings.  Whatever is put out on the internet is there forever and can have consequences later in life;
  • Write a list of rules about social media usage and discuss them with their children.  Include questions such as: Is the posting going to hurt someone’s feelings; Does it feel threatening in any way; and
  • Have a conversation with their children about bullying, emphasizing the ‘rule’ of not joining friends who are gossiping about or teasing others online.

PTA respects the rights of adults to choose their own entertainment and educational fare. However, since young minds are easily influenced, PTA believes that producers of mass media have a responsibility to consider how media messages, images and experiences affect children and youth.

PTA encourages producers of mass media, cable providers, internet media providers, social media sites, and developers and advocates for technology tools to recognize their responsibility to provide parents with tools to control their children’s exposure to inappropriate material.

California State PTA believes parents, producers, and providers of mass media share a responsibility to provide positive experiences that enrich the lives of children and youth. PTA further believes that media literacy relating to mass media, should be included in K-12 curriculum and in PTA parent education programs.

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