The role of media in children's development: an ecological perspective

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2004 Jun;25(3):196-206. doi: 10.1097/00004703-200406000-00009.


This article reviews the literature on the role of media in children's physical, behavioral, and cognitive development. Using Bronfenbrenner's ecological perspective, the review focuses on the contexts of childhood that shape the availability and use of the media. The relationship between children's media uses/exposures and their ecological contexts are traced through three areas of the research literature: disordered eating, anti- and prosocial behaviors; and school achievement. While traditional and newer forms of electronic and print media are considered, the review gives particular attention to the ways in which ecological contexts shape the impact of television on children's development. The article offers evidence-based suggestions for parents concerning best practices for children's media use, and concludes with an agenda for future research in the field of children and media.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Environment*
  • Humans
  • Mass Media* / statistics & numerical data
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Physical Fitness
  • Public Policy
  • Social Behavior
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires