The relationship between children's patterns of media usage and their perceptions of the European Union
Social Sciences Loughborough University Loughborough, United Kingdom
The paper will present the preliminary findings of a pilot study on the relationship between children?s patterns of media usage and their perceptions of and identifications with Europe and the European Union (EU).
Two main issues are explored. First, the general patterns of media usages of children as self-reported and reported by their parents are outlined. Media are said to be one of the four main agents in the socialization process and especially important in agenda-setting on topics people do not know much about. Previous studies on identity formation in childhood clearly emphasise the important role media play in the process but few (if any) actually explore the subject. Moreover, in the United Kingdom the majority of newspapers is overtly Eurosceptic, and attempt to play a key role in influencing the government?s position and public opinion on key EU-related issues.
Second, the study reveals whether and what children and their parents know about the EU, how they feel about their country?s membership, European people and member states. Another major finding is how salient the European identity is in comparison with other identities in childhood, such as gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, human-ness. The study also compares the relationship between children and their parents' media usages and between their knowledge of and identification with Europe and the European Union. Finally, the paper addresses key methodological issues raised by the pilot study.
The study is a first step of a research aimed at establishing the relationship between dominant media representations and children?s perceptions of the EU.