Today, children and adolescents live and function in a highly sophisticated media environment, almost from birth. Even the simple act of watching television has become a much more complex activity than it was just a few years ago. The multiplication of content, 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, the evolution of computers and software, 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. They allow users to transcend spatial and temporal constraints and engage in new exchanges with individuals and groups.
We can then rightfully ask how these new contents and new platforms interact with cognitive, emotional and psychosocial development of young people. Do they shape the users’ 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 new technologies. How do family life, parental roles and intergenerational dynamics affect media practices and vice versa? What are the optimal regulation strategies in this area? Are these concerns shared on the international scale?
The Centre for Youth and Media Studies (GRJM/CYMS) specializes 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 psychosocial and cultural changes engendered by the implementation and diffusion of what are now known as emerging information and communication technologies.
André H. Caron