Is there such a thing as Children’s Television anyway?

Authors: Woodfall, A.

Start date: 6 July 2015

Children’s media can be said to have long transcended platform delineation, yet within current practice there appears to be a tension between top-down pan-media strategy and the day-to-day platform-led activities of those that actually create media. Research with children similarly tends to recognise the media platform, like television, as a point of entry, yet perhaps underappreciates the ways in which children operate as a media hub to a multi-utterance lived experience. Focussing on children’s cross-platform media within the UK, this paper shares on the findings from a multi-method study; one that focussed on both the media preferences of children and the reflections on these preferences by those that make media for children. Television practitioners within the study tended to self-identify as coming from, and align with, a particular area of practice, and appeared to think platform first in their development approach. However child participants offered little sense that they saw the platform itself as being of overriding significance to their media engagement. There was mention of television for example, but children appeared much quicker to discuss character and narrative, than platform – and addressed their media preferences in a near platform agnostic manner.

Here argument is made that as television operates within a complex dialogic relationship with other media, it becomes difficult to isolate it from any other medium and (when one turns to children’s media in particular) from the child’s lived experience. At this point approaches that address any medium, like television, as singular, finalised and isolatable become problematic.

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