Today, children and adolescents live and function in a highly sophisticated media environment, almost from birth. Even the simple act of viewing media has become a much more complex activity than it was just a few years ago. The multiplication of contents, in parallel with the choice of platforms to support other activities than viewing, has made television a polymorphic medium.
In parallel, the spread of the Internet and the diffusion of mobile media have led to a proliferation of opportunities for both cultural consumption and for forging social ties and building networks. Family and social life of young people have been reconstructed around these technologies, by the technologies themselves.
We can then rightfully ask how these new contents and new platforms interact with cognitive, emotional and social development of young people. Do they shape childrens’ understanding of the world around them? Is there a relation between these media and the formation of young people’s identity as a member of a family, community or culture? It is also important to consider the social consequences of the appropriation of these technologies. How do family life, parental roles and intergenerational dynamics affect media practices and vice versa?
The Centre for Youth and Media Studies (GRJM/CYMS) specialized in exploring questions of this nature. Founded in 1988, the Centre focused its initial efforts on analyzing television programming and viewing, and on the promotion of quality media content for youth. As youths’ media practices have become more diversified, the GRJM/CYMS quickly realized the importance of cultivating a specific research interest in social and cultural changes engendered by the implementation and diffusion of what are now known as emerging information and communication technologies.
In the next few months, after 30 years of activities the CYMS in the Département of Communication at the Université of Montréal will be ceasing it’s activities. It has been a wonderful journey of doing research projects, training close to 200 young researchers and being able to share our scientific findings nationally and internationally
Therefore in this last presentation I would like to simply underline what motivated and gratified all those that worked so hard in the Centre.
The CYMS team included colleagues, with interdisciplinary expertises in the field of Communication, Education, Psychology, and Economics, graduate and undergraduate students and young researchers. All extremely generous and motivated to make an important contribution to the betterment of media and technologies in the everyday life of children.
The CYMS allowed us to investigate a large number of different topics such as the introduction of television to children in Inuit communities in the far North, the impact of television advertising with the Office de la protection du consommateur and assist in the production of quality children’s content such as the scientific television program “Les Débrouillards. etc. “. Our involvement in the founding of the Children’s Broadcast Institute (now called Youth Media Alliance) and the Media Awareness Network (now called MediaSmarts) were important steps in the course of CYMS activities.
Being involved in the community has always been a priority for us at the Centre whether it is with parents or teacher associations both from the French and English communities .Our regular presence in the media we hoped allowed us to promote the importance of children issues and the role of technologies in their lives.
Finally and more importantly at this point we would like to thank all the children, parents, teachers and certainly our exceptional partners that supported and shared our social mission for children.
André H. Caron
For those interested in the CYMS’s research reports and publications most of these documents will remain available on Researchgate under the name of André H. Caron.