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

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • General Overviews
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Images of Children
  • Children’s Self-Representations
  • Fictional Children
  • Politics of Childhood
  • News About Children
  • Moral Panics

Childhood Studies Children in the Media
Deniz Arzuk
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 August 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0262


Children in the media is one of the three main areas at the conjunction of childhood studies and media studies, with the other two being media production and its effects on children as audience/consumers, and children’s relationship with the media as active participants of media culture. While pedagogical, psychological, and communication research mostly focuses on the effects of the media on children, since the earlier years of the discipline, the focus of much childhood studies has been on centering the agentic child, thus children’s media cultures has been an important and widely studied topic. This has left relatively smaller room for the study of children in the media in childhood scholarship, with the exception of the study of the fictional child in literature, film, theater, and other media. Although not as widely seized by childhood studies as children’s media cultures, the study of children in the media presents an important opportunity to bridge several disciplines, including media and communication studies, sociology, history, psychology, and cultural studies. This bibliography uses a broad definition of media to include both traditional and newer types of media. The definition of children is also broad and does not exclude older children and teens. A review of scholarship reveals some central analytical foci, which is reflected by the organization of this bibliography. The most prevalent of these foci is the study of representations of children and childhood in the media, including children’s self-representation. The sections on representation include Images of Children, Children’s Self-Representations, and Fictional Children. The following sections on Politics of Childhood, News About Children, and Moral Panics introduce works that discuss media’s role in the perception and social construction of childhood. Due to its methodological versatility, this line of research lends itself well to exploring specific topics in relation to childhood in the media. Some of these topics are outlined under Major Themes in Children in the Media Research, and include Children and Conflict, Child Abuse, Children and Social Justice, Children and Consumption, and Girlhood, Boyhood, and Queer Childhoods.

Reference Works

In addition to more focused reference works compiled by scholars with specific interest in children and the media, including Arnett 2007 and Drotner and Livingstone 2008, children in the media is also covered by wider reference works on childhood studies and sociology of childhood. These include Qvortrup, et al. 2009, and more recently, Cook 2020.

  • Arnett, Jeffrey Jensen, ed. Encyclopedia of Children, Adolescents, and the Media. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2007.

    An interdisciplinary and global two-volume encyclopedia with four hundred entries, with more focus on media effects on children. Includes entries on parental involvement, regulation, and policy.

  • Cook, Daniel Thomas, ed. SAGE Encyclopedia of Childhood Studies. London: SAGE, 2020.

    Up-to-date reference resource on childhood studies, with entries on several topics related to children in the media, including children in film, representations of youth, child actors, and more.

  • Drotner, Kirsten, and Sonia Livingstone. The International Handbook of Children, Media and Culture. London: SAGE, 2008.

    DOI: 10.4135/9781848608436

    This is a carefully put together reference work that contextualizes children and young people’s media cultures, and outlines concerns about children’s relations to the media. It has a multidisciplinary and global framework.

  • Qvortrup, Jens, William A. Corsaro, and Michael-Sebastian Honig, eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Childhood Studies. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

    This is one of the most influential interdisciplinary reference works on childhood studies, with chapters on children and media, including television and digital media.

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