Series: Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes and Black Adolescent Identity III

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This is the third post in a series based on Professor Valerie Adams-Bass‘ UVA class, “Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes And Black Adolescent Identity.”

Introduction by Valerie Adams-Bass, Ph.D.
TV talks. The characters we view on television shows and in movies speak to us through the written scripts and through the physical bodies of the characters. Media socialization—the exposure to mass communication (television, radio, internet, newspapers) messages, which teach people socially accepted behaviors that have: (a) a direct influence on cognitive ability and behavioral functioning, and (b) a mediating or facilitative indirect influence on learning (Adams & Stevenson, 2012), has been identified as a notable factor during adolescence. Arnett, 1995; Lloyd, 2002; Strasburger, Wilson & Jordan, 2014). Students in EDHS 3100, , are learning about the scripts that are associated with black media images and discussing the impact on African-American adolescents. Their blog entries reflect an understanding of the scripts viewed in television sitcoms, drama, reality shows, or movies and the potential impact of exposure to theses media images on viewers.


Boyz n the Hood
By Naana Ewool, UVA student

For this reaction paper, I chose to watch Boyz n the Hood. The film takes place in South Central Los Angeles, where a group of young friends navigate life within the gang culture that surrounds them. 10-year-old Tre Styles gets sent to live with his father, and viewers are exposed to the stark contrast in Tre’s life with his present and active father and his friends Ricky and Doughboy, half brothers living with their single mother. Throughout the film, Tre’s father Furious serves as a voice of reason, always lending a listening ear, sternly disciplining, and fiercely loving his only son. Doughboy, who from a young age begins stealing, spends time in and out of jail, and by 17 has joined a gang. Ricky becomes his high school’s number one running back and is easily his mother’s favorite child. Despite having a child out of wedlock with his live-in girlfriend, Ricky is presented as a responsible and noble young man, unlike his excessively violent and angry brother.

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Research and the Real World, are they a Match?

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Above, Joanna Williams speaks to a standing room only crowd of colleagues and students, at the February Youth-Nex Works in Progress Meeting on “Investigating Diversity in Early Adolescence.” (Audio of the talk here.)

Williams is an associate professor at the Curry School of Education and is affiliated with Youth-Nex and Youth and Social Innovation (YSI).

In her recent blog for the William T. Grant Foundation, Joanna Williams asks if research matters in the real world. Published with the foundation’s consent here are her thoughts. Continue reading

Series: Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes and Black Adolescent Identity II

This is the second post in a series based on Professor Valerie Adams-Bass‘ UVA class, “Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes And Black Adolescent Identity.”

Introduction by Valerie Adams-Bass, Ph.D.
TV talks. The characters we view on television shows and in movies speak to us through the written scripts and through the physical bodies of the characters. Media socialization—the exposure to mass communication (television, radio, internet, newspapers) messages, which teach people socially accepted behaviors that have: (a) a direct influence on cognitive ability and behavioral functioning, and (b) a mediating or facilitative indirect influence on learning (Adams & Stevenson, 2012), has been identified as a notable factor during adolescence. Arnett, 1995; Lloyd, 2002; Strasburger, Wilson & Jordan, 2014). Students in EDHS 3100, , are learning about the scripts that are associated with black media images and discussing the impact on African-American adolescents. Their blog entries reflect an understanding of the scripts viewed in television sitcoms, drama, reality shows, or movies and the potential impact of exposure to theses media images on viewers.

 


The Proud Family, “Twins to Tweens”
By Meagan Josephs, UVA student

For this reaction paper, I chose to watch an episode of The Proud Family called “Twins to Tweens” (season 3, ep. 8). The Proud Family is a Disney cartoon that depicts the antics of an African American family. Penny, a teenage girl, struggles through ordinary issues such as friends, boys and of course, family. In this particular episode, Penny’s mom, dad, and grandma, “Suga Mama,” head off for a bowling tournament, leaving Penny to watch her twin siblings, Bebe and Cece. Viewers are constantly reminded how often Penny has to watch the twins and how irritated this chore has made her. On this day, Penny’s wish for her siblings, to grow up is granted by the TV weatherman. With her newfound freedom, Penny is able to attend a pool party at the house of her crush, Dante. At the pool party, Bebe and Cece turn heads and quickly rise to the top of the social pyramid, whereas Penny tumbles to the bottom. At school, the twins ace their exams; in contrast, Penny barely passes. Even at home, their parents give the twins preferential treatment, including money, new clothes, and driving lessons; all of which Penny is denied. “Never be mistreated or ignored,” Suga Mama advises before ignoring Penny like everyone else.

The theme of rejection subsides when Mrs. Proud demands that the twins now take their sister to the mall. Though they initially deny her, Penny “may not have friends but she’ll always have family” they decide to bring her along. When she is then denied by the school nerd, she snaps and demands that things return to the way they were. The weatherman yields to her chants and the twins shrink back to their former selves, and everyone else’s memories are cleared.

I was surprised that an animated show depicted such negative, polarized stereotypes of Black people. For example, every encounter with Mr. Proud showed him as a stingy Mama’s boy. In the first scene, Suga Mama drops a bowling ball on his foot and delivers a punch line indicating that she is the one supporting the family. This idea reappears when Suga Mama chases Mr. Proud around the house with a rolling pin. These interactions show not only the relationship between a strong matriarch and weak father figure but also an extreme version of “tough love.” At the opposite end of the spectrum, Penny allows others to walk all over her; her friends and family abandon her, yet she does not fight.

Preference for white-appearance was also at the forefront of this episode, especially for women. Aside from Penny, all the girls had straight hair, some were even blonde. Suga Mama even referenced Penny’s “ugly hair.” Along with straight hair, light skin was a qualification for popularity. Dante and Cece both have light enough complexions to pass as White.

The twins are portrayed as the ideal people: smart, attractive, popular, and athletic go-getters. Ironically, since they have not grown into their role unlike the other characters; it is as if time causes Black people to become stupid and resentful. This resentment can go two ways: antagonistic like Suga Mama or withdrawn like Penny. Penny’s fight for equal rights is subdued by her White counterparts. When Penny eventually stands up to the weatherman, her demands, so out of character, come across as petulant. I interpreted that this episode was a colorful depiction of the White response to the civil rights movement. Penny was deemed stupid and unpopular by a group led by ignorant babies. In actuality, Penny knew what she wanted and she eventually acquired her desire, and Bebe and Cece were put back in their place.

This episode exemplifies how television can be used for identity formation and socialization. Arnett’s Adolescents’ Uses of Media for Self-Socialization says that one of the most important aspects of identity formation is defining gender roles. Whereas Penny’s identity constantly changes in light of her siblings’ impact, Bebe and Cece clearly take on their respective gender roles. Bebe is the tall, athletic man. He appeals to women with very little effort. In contrast, Cece loves clothes, canopy beds, cheer and boys. These passions depict girls as dainty, beautiful and absorbed by appearances. They also teach viewers “‘scripts’ for how to behave in unfamiliar situations” (Strasburger et al 758). Adolescents, who have not yet encountered many circumstances, would find this advice especially relevant.

Values stabilize society, so distinguishing what matters is a major aspect of Arnett’s socialization, which Bebe and Cece help express. When Mrs. Proud requests that the twins take Penny to the mall, they vehemently reject her. She responds with a crucial lesson, “Penny may not have friends, but she has family.” This statement emphasizes the importance of family in our society, which is easily overlooked among adolescents who are constantly searching for their identities in their friends.

Jackson’s text, Scripting the Black Masculine Body Identity also demonstrated concepts that viewers encounter in this episode, including colorism. As previously stated, Cece and Dante have such light complexions that they could pass as White. This idea, defined by Jackson as “the process by which bi-ethnic people conceal their African heritage and assimilate totally into the European American community,” was prevalent when Blacks’ rights were withheld. Colorism as a broader concept, entails a preference for lighter appearances. Even today, media depicts “light-skinned” Blacks as the beauty ideal. Those with light eyes and thin noses, Anglo-Saxon characteristics, are plastered on magazines and TV screens disproportionately. This episode pays homage to this uncomfortable truth through Cece and Dante.

 

References

Arnett, J. J. (1995). Adolescents’ uses of media for self-socialization. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 24(5), 519-533.

Jackson, R. L. (2006). Scripting the black masculine body identity. Albany, NY: Suny.

Strasburger, V. C., Jordan, A. B., Donnerstein, E. (2010). Health effects of media on children and adolescents, Pediatrics, 125(4), 756-767.

Discussion Questions

  • Why is Mr. Proud presented as a weak man? How would the show change if he was the head of the house?
  • Why would Suga Mama tell Penny to stand up for herself rather than help her?

 

Series: Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes And Black Adolescent Identity

 
This is the first post in a series based on Professor Valerie Adams-Bass‘ UVA class, “Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes And Black Adolescent Identity.”

Introduction by Valerie Adams-Bass, Ph.D.
TV talks. The characters we view on television shows and in movies speak to us through the written scripts and through the physical bodies of the characters. Media socialization—the exposure to mass communication (television, radio, internet, newspapers) messages, which teach people socially accepted behaviors that have: (a) a direct influence on cognitive ability and behavioral functioning, and (b) a mediating or facilitative indirect influence on learning (Adams & Stevenson, 2012), has been identified as a notable factor during adolescence. Arnett, 1995; Lloyd, 2002; Strasburger, Wilson & Jordan, 2014). Students in EDHS 3100, Media Socialization, Racial Stereotypes and Black Adolescent Identity, are learning about the scripts that are associated with black media images and discussing the impact on African-American adolescents. Their blog entries reflect an understanding of the scripts viewed in television sitcoms, drama, reality shows, or movies and the potential impact of exposure to theses media images on viewers.


The Parkers, “That’s What Friends Are For”
By Alysa Triplett, UVA student

The Parkers is a sitcom about an African-American mother-daughter duo in Los Angeles, California who both attend a local community college. In this particular episode, both mother (Nikki) and daughter (Kim) prepare for a final examination for a class taught by professor, and love interest of Nikki, Stanley Oglevee. Just a few days before the exam, Nikki’s high school friend, Flo, arrives in town for a charity walk and stays with the Parkers. Flo’s presence proves to be a hindrance to Nikki’s studies as she repeatedly convinces Nikki to go out instead of studying, even the night before the test. On this particular night, Flo leaves Nikki at a party, which eventually results in Nikki getting arrested and missing her morning exam. On Kim’s side of the story, she and her [musical] band (with friends Stevie and T) book a lot of gigs in the days leading up to the exam. This leaves them with little time to study and thus they resort to cheating. Continue reading

Why Enroll Your Child in After-School Activities?

By Nancy L. Deutsch, Ph.D.

Deutsch is an associate professor of Research, Statistics & Evaluation and Applied Developmental Science at UVA and is an affiliated faculty member with Youth-Nex. Her research examines the socio-ecological contexts of adolescent development, particularly issues related to identity. She has focused on the role of after-school programs and relationships with important adults.

This blog was originally published at www.infoaboutkids.org, as “After-school activities: Why are they important and what should you look for?”

As the school year begins, many parents are thinking not only about what classes their children will take in school, but also what their kids will do after school. After-school activities offer opportunities for kids to learn new skills, explore different areas of talent, deepen existing expertise, get support for areas they aren’t as strong in, make friends, and form relationships with supportive adults. Participation in structured after-school activities has also been linked to a number of positive outcomes. For working parents, after-school activities are often more than a luxury, they are necessary child care in those gap hours when children are out of school but parents are still at work. Research shows that there are risks of kids being unsupervised after school, so after-school activities are an important resource to parents seeking to make sure their kids are in a safe and structured place once they leave their classrooms.

So what does the landscape of after-school activities look like and how should you choose the right one for your kid?

After-school activities range from extra-curricular activities (school-based clubs or teams), to comprehensive after-school programs (school or community-based), to private lessons, faith-based groups, and specialized tutoring or mentoring programs targeted towards specific needs. Programs differ in their costs and offerings. Whereas both of these factors are important for families, the aspect of programs that affects kids the most is their quality.

Research suggests that participation in structured after-school programs and activities can have benefits for kids, including social skills, emotional development, and academics. But the quality of and the child’s engagement in a program both influence the impact it will have.

High quality programs provide a safe space with supportive relationships, appropriate structure, and positive expectations for behavior. But beyond that they also provide opportunities for belonging and skill building and give youth a place to express themselves, take on responsibilities, and tackle challenging tasks. Researchers studying after-school programs focused on social and personal skills found that programs with four features, called the “SAFE” features, had an impact on both social-emotional and academic outcomes. These programs had a (S)equenced set of activities, emphasized (A)ctive learning, had a component that (F)ocused on building social and emotional skills, and communicated in an (E)xplicit way about the skills they were trying to develop in youth. Other researchers have found that programs that allow youth to actively shape activities and take on meaningful roles in “real world” projects (including artistic performances and other types of public presentations) provide opportunity for youth to develop important social, emotional, and cognitive skills. The adult staff in such programs play an important role in creating opportunities for learning, setting expectations, serving as role models, and providing useful feedback and scaffolding.

So can there be too much of a good thing?

About a decade ago, the notion of the “over-scheduled child” took hold. Some people argued that children are too scheduled during the after-school hours, leading to undue pressure on kids, with potentially negative outcomes. In reality, very few kids participate in extremely high levels of after-school activities. Overall, kids average about 5 hours per week of scheduled after-school activities, and about 40% of kids don’t participate in any organized after-school activities. There does not appear to be evidence that more activities, in and of themselves, have a negative impact on kids. But of course it is important to be sensitive to your kid’s needs.

Whereas parents in some communities may be concerned about over-scheduling, parents in other communities are struggling to find high quality programs for their kids. Youth from lower income households participate in out-of-school activities at lower rates than their higher income peers and there is substantial unmet demand for high quality programs, especially among lower income families.

So, what are some things to keep in mind as you try to find the right after-school activities for your kids?

  • Stay focused on what your child likes to do. It is fine to suggest trying new activities to expose your child to a variety of interests. But your child’s enthusiasm for the activity is also important. Even if it is necessary for your child to participate in after-school programming every day, talk to them about what types of activities they find most engaging.
  • The after-school hours can be a great time for kids to explore different talents. As many schools have faced cuts in enrichment programs, after-school activities can offer your child the chance to demonstrate talents and learn skills they may not get to in school. This can be important not only for developing new interests, but also for kids to experience competence in different areas.
  • Be sensitive to your kid’s needs. Although there is no evidence to suggest that more activities are bad for kids, if your child is expressing a dislike of particular activities or a desire to do less, talk to them about what is motivating those feelings. Think about how you might be able to balance their activities in a way that gives them opportunities to develop skills and participate in activities they enjoy while also having some time for play and socializing in safe and structured environments.
  • Look for programs that offer sequenced, active, focused and explicit activities in safe spaces where youth have opportunities to shape and take on meaningful roles in activities. All of these are program features that research has linked to positive learning experiences and outcomes for kids.
  • Pay attention to the adults. Relationships with caring adults are associated with positive outcomes for kids. High quality after-school activities can be environments where kids can form relationships with adults who can supplement the support that you give your child. And good adult leaders translate to better experiences for kids.
  • If you have a limited budget, look into local community-based organizations that offer sliding scale fees for families, and often waive fees altogether for families that need it.

Proper citation link for this blog post originally published on infoaboutkids.org:
Deutsch, N.L. (2016, September 07). After-school activities: Why are they important and what should you look for? Retrieved from http://infoaboutkids.org/blog/after-school-activities-why-are-they-important-and-what-should-they-look-like/

Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress: A Comprehensive Review

By Aleta L. Meyer, PhD

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Aleta L. Meyer is Senior Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Meyer’s work focuses on the translation of theory and empirical research across multiple health outcomes into effective and feasible prevention programs for communities. At Administration for Children and Families (ACF) this includes the translation of research on early adversity to ACF programs, community-based-participatory-research to evaluate early childhood programs within American Indian/Alaska Native communities, and positive youth development.

In March 2015 we featured the first of 4 inter-related reports on self-regulation and toxic stress published by the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, titled Seven Key Principles Identified in New Report on Self-Regulation Development, by Meyer who conceived the project, led the effort, and is the project’s program officer.

Since that time, the project published a second report, A Review of Ecological, Biological, and Developmental Studies of Self-Regulation and Stressa literature review on the impact of early adversity and chronic stress on self-regulation development from birth to young adulthood.

This post by Meyer, highlights the recently released 3rd report, Self-Regulation and Toxic Stress Report 3: A Comprehensive Review of Self-Regulation Interventions from Birth Through Young Adulthood. Key authors: Desiree W. Murray, Katie self-reg-coverRosanbalm, Christina Christopoulos, Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University.
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Itching For Scratch

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By Valerie N. Adams-Bass, PhD

Valerie N. Adams-Bass is an Assistant Professor of the Youth and Social Innovations (YSI) program in the Curry School of Education and a Youth-Nex Faculty Affiliate, at the University of Virginia.

Educational Technology, Ed-Tech is garnering considerable attention as public school districts increasingly adopt and integrate technology into day-to-day instruction. In 2015, I worked as a research fellow with the University of California Davis School of Education on the Digital Promise Pilot to Purchase Project.

Considered a “short-cycle” research project, we worked at a rapid pace for the first half of the year to learn as much as we could from six districts that ranged in size from 1,200-to-96,000 students about how they pilot and make purchasing decisions about ed-tech products. To collect data, I touched down in 4 time zones and visited 4 states; Alabama, California, Idaho, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. After a demanding travel schedule, I wrapped up my data collection and headed home.

Many of our findings were published in Pilot-to-Purchase, Piloting Ed-tech Products in k-12 Public Schools report and we created a “tool kit” of resources that are the result of recommendations included in the report. In steps two, three and four of the toolkit I discuss planning, training and implementation and data collection, all important components of piloting ed-tech tools. You’ll find videos discussing these steps throughout this blog, courtesy of DigitalPromise.org.

Adams-Bass Video One:
From Digital Promise.org
Planning
When planning a pilot, districts must clearly articulate what they are trying to accomplish and how they will collect evidence to make an informed decision. Pilots produce the most useful results when everyone involved can answer the question, “What does success look like?”
adamsbassvid1

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Ethnicity and Health: How Can We Maximize Urban Green Space for Health Promotion?

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by Jenny Roe, Ph.D. and Alice Roe
Originally published on The Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health (UD/MH) blog, here. [Jenny Roe, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Design and Health, School of Architecture, University of Virginia. Her recent talk, at our sponsored lecture series, can be found here.]

 

Access to parks and urban green space facilitates exposure to nature, exercise and social opportunities that have positive impacts on both physical and mental health. In the last decade, rates of migration have risen dramatically across the globe: by 2038, it’s expected that half of London’s residents will be of a black and minority ethnic origin (BME). Our cities, towns and communities are becoming increasingly multicultural and, yet there are inequalities. A recent report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission showed that in the UK, ethnic minorities are experiencing worse health outcomes. This is particularly the case for mental health: in 2012, the proportion of adults in England who were at risk of poor mental health was found to be higher among Pakistani/Bangladeshi and African/Caribbean/Black respondents than White respondents, and there were inequalities in accessing healthcare.

Hence, it is increasingly important that research reflects the diverse make-up of these populations. A new study has sought to better understand the differences in use and perception of urban green space among BME groups in the UK, and illustrated the need for park facilitators to accommodate the needs, attitudes and interests of our multicultural population.

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Time to Mobilize: Youth Development Scholars and the Movement for Black Lives

Arbeit Mimi_3601.jpgBy Mimi Arbeit, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow with Youth-Nex

The Movement for Black Lives is a coalition of more than 50 organizations fighting for Black liberation and for the end of state-sanctioned violence against Black people and communities.

The platform is divided into six sets of demands.

To examine how these demands relate to our work as scholars of youth development, we needn’t look any further than the first demand of the first set:

  1. An immediate end to the criminalization and dehumanization of Black youth across all areas of society including, but not limited to; our nation’s justice and education systems, social service agencies, and media and pop culture. This includes an end to zero-tolerance school policies and arrests of students, the removal of police from schools, and the reallocation of funds from police and punitive school discipline practices to restorative services.

This is not hypothetical. This is not up for empirical debate. This is happening, across all areas of society, as in, all the areas of youth lives that we study. And this is urgent.

“The urgency around Black Lives is not only relevant to scholars who list “race” among their research interests. It is relevant to ALL of us whose work touches our nation’s justice and education systems, social service agencies, and media and pop culture.”

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Restorative Practices and The 3 R’s – Restore, Rebuild, Reconnect

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This month’s blog is by Mark Marini, known to most as “Muggsie,” an Intervention Specialist at Albemarle High School. For the past 19 years, he has worked diligently in education to support struggling learners, both with behaviors and academics, by working both with students and teachers. He fills many roles at Albemarle High including: Intervention Specialist, English teacher, Special Education teacher, Mediator, School Based Intervention Co-Chair, Response To Intervention Specialist, AVID English teacher, and lifelong learner. Check out his blog, On Education. Follow Muggsie @muggsiem

Youth-Nex had the pleasure of meeting Muggsie at this year’s conference, “Youth of Color Matter: Reducing Inequalities Through Positive Youth Development.” We are grateful for his and fellow educators’ participation at the event.

There are some children in the world who were just born to be good. My daughter, who is now nine, seems to be one of those children. When she was small, still crawling around, my wife and I remember her going past an electrical outlet in our house. She started to reach towards it, and my wife gently said, “No; don’t touch.” She looked at my wife, looked at the outlet, and kept crawling. Several days later, she was crawling past the same outlet, and she stopped. Pointed at it and said, “No.” Then she continued crawling. For the most part, my wife and I did not have to teach her good behavior. It is as if she was born with a gene that helps her to do the right thing. But that does not mean she always does.


“My experience is that Restorative Practices, if implemented with the required support and training, can have a great impact on a community. This could be a school, a neighborhood, or even a family. With time and dedication, the gains for our next generation are great. For, while resolving conflicts with Restorative Practices, we teach children how to resolve future conflicts on their own.”


SomeWalkingAwaytimes, she needs additional support. She has a younger brother who tests her and her ability to make the right choices. In those moments when she is tested, she needs support to know how to act, and how, if she has caused harm, to fix it.

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