Challenges and Opportunities of Researching Children’s Holistic Media Lives
Authors: Zezulkova M
Conference: Comparing Children’s Media around the World: Policies, Texts and Audiences
Dates: 3-4 September 2015Abstract:
The conference paper draws upon the interdisciplinary and intercultural research project conducted predominantly in the USA and the Czech Republic, and marginally in Colombia, Malta, and China. The research set to explore primary school children’s multiplicity of everyday media practices in the context of their immediate and developing sociocultural, emotional, intellectual, physical, and creative being. Although the research was classroom-based, it investigated both in- and out-of-school all-media related engagements, which allowed the project to address a child in integral manner and consequently to explore the participants’ life in, with, and through media as ‘a total one’ (Dewey, 1919, p.9). The project discovered, that each child’s individual and collective media life was situated within a unique holistic system whereby everything was interconnected and dialogic, and so were the diverse media platforms, texts, and practices that the children interacted with. The participating children as media consumers, users and authors were seen to pass quickly and readily from one role to another, from one source to another, and from one platform to another (or none). These processes fuelled a ‘convergence’ classroom culture, which was ‘participatory’ and ‘collective’ (Jenkins, 2006, p.3-4); a culture that drew upon, rather than directly used, multiple media platforms and reciprocally fuelled the children’s out-of-school diverse media practices. Moreover, this holistic system constructed and orchestrated by children was fluid and fluent, constantly reforming and adapting to their evolving interests as they were learning, maturing, and negotiating their preferences and practices. This elastic complexity of children’s media lives suggests that contemporary and future media research with children might face a number of challenges if aiming to conduct a child-centred and child-informed research exploring the multiplicity of their everyday media lives. Through reflecting on the research project described above, this paper points out some of these issues, such as blending in- and out-of- school field research, conducting platform and genre agnostic/inclusive studies, or the need for equally acknowledging children as beings and becomings when exploring and interpreting their voices.