In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Youth and Media

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Development as a Media Market
  • Media Representations of Youth
  • Media Effects on Youth
  • Youth’s Uses of Media
  • Global Media
  • Television
  • Cinema
  • Popular Music
  • Magazines
  • Digital Media and ICTs
  • Video Games

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Communication Youth and Media
Bill Osgerby
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 April 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 April 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0058


The media are a ubiquitous presence in the lives of contemporary youth. The television shows they watch, the music they listen to, the video games they play, and the websites they visit all play a major part in young people’s lives, offering them a stream of different experiences, ideas, and knowledge. Moreover, developments in communications technology bring the media into young people’s reach as never before. With the rise of digital platforms and the growth of the Internet, the amount of time young people spend engaging with the media has risen significantly. Societies’ perceptions of the young are also shaped by the media. Rather than being a universal and unchanging life stage, “youth” is a relative, culturally constructed concept that has varied between different historical and geographical contexts. A wide range of social, economic, and political forces contribute to the way youth is defined and understood, but the media play a crucial role as well: They influence social attitudes toward youth as well as young people’s perception of themselves. Consequently, there exists a broad body of interdisciplinary scholarship analyzing youth’s relationship with media, and the nature of media texts aimed at young people. Considerable energies have been devoted to investigating the media’s possible influence on youth behavior, but a growing body of work also explores the ways young people actively engage with the media and make it meaningful in their lives. Other research focuses on how the media represent youth and target young people as a specific market for goods and entertainment. Additional studies focus on the development of specific media forms aimed at young audiences—for example, distinctive film genres or particular television formats. Whereas many studies of children’s relationships with the media have been grounded in psychological or behavioral approaches, much research on adolescents’ and young adults’ relations with the media has emerged from the fields of media, cultural, and communications studies. The entries cited in this bibliography represent key research in this diverse range of analysis. They include both landmark contributions and effective overviews of particular areas of inquiry. These latter publications include their own bibliographies, which readers can use to explore further the topic of youth and media.

General Overviews

Research on the relationship between youth and the media is diverse. Authors come from an array of disciplines, most prominently communications studies, cultural studies, film studies, media studies, popular music studies, psychology, sociology, and history. Early studies emerged from psychology and explored the perceived influence of the mass media on young people’s behavior. This tradition remains prominent, and solid overviews can be found in both Kirsh 2010 and Strasburger and Wilson 2009. Since the 1970s, a wealth of research dealing with youth and the media has arisen in the disciplines of communications, cultural, and media studies. Osgerby 2004 provides an overview of this work and analyzes the shifting character of media aimed at youth. Drotner and Livingstone 2008 contains a thorough introduction to the core issues related to youths’ relationship with the media, while Wee 2010 provides an incisive account of shifts in the youth media market since the late 1990s. Rideout, et al. 2010 provides the most comprehensive survey of American youths’ patterns of media use. The broad development of youth cultures and identities is intimately related to the way young people engage with the media. The contributions to Steinberg, et al. 2006 deliver a wide-ranging overview of this background, while Rollin 1999 represents an accessible account of broad contextual shifts in America.

  • Drotner, Kirsten, and Sonia Livingstone, eds. 2008. The international handbook of children, media and culture. London: SAGE.

    This collection constitutes an exhaustive overview of children’s and young people’s global media cultures. Impressive in their scope, the contributions provide an excellent guide to key issues and significant research.

  • Kirsh, Steven J. 2010. Media and youth: A developmental perspective. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Kirsh elaborates a clear and comprehensive survey of developmental theories and research related to youth and the media. There is a solid summary of “effects” studies, and some worthy attention to health issues.

  • Osgerby, Bill. 2004. Youth media. London: Routledge.

    DOI: 10.4324/9780203343630

    This book provides an overview of media and cultural-studies research related to youth and the media. Explores both media representations of youth and relationships in the production, circulation, and consumption of media forms geared to young audiences.

  • Rideout, Victoria J., Ulla G. Foehr, and Donald F. Roberts. 2010. Generation M2: Media in the lives of 8- to 18-year-olds. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation.

    Produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation, this report is the third in a series of large-scale surveys of American youths’ media use. Includes data from all three waves of the study (1999, 2004, and 2009), and is among the most comprehensive sources of information about media use by youth in the United States.

  • Rollin, Lucy. 1999. Twentieth century teen culture by the decades: A reference guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

    An engaging and accessible decade-by-decade outline of American teen life from 1900 to 1999. It summarizes shifts in home, work, and school lives, and the development of teenagers’ tastes in books, music, movies, and fashion.

  • Steinberg, Shirley, Priya Parmar, and Birgit Richard, eds. 2006. Contemporary youth culture: An international encyclopedia. 2 vols. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

    This extensive, interdisciplinary collection is an authoritative guide to contemporary youth cultures worldwide. Many essays address the media’s role in constituting modern youth cultures.

  • Strasburger, Victor, and Barbara Wilson. 2009. Children, adolescents, and the media. 2d ed. Los Angeles: SAGE.

    This book provides a comprehensive overview of research grounded in the “effects” tradition. In considering media’s impact on young people, it explores such areas as violence, video games, sexuality, drugs, and body image. Originally published in 2002, the 2009 edition includes additional chapters on prosocial aspects of the media and educational media.

  • Wee, Valerie. 2010. Teen media: Hollywood and the youth market in the digital age. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

    Wee eloquently charts key shifts in the youth market since the 1990s and the ways the entertainment business and media producers have responded.

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