Presentation Title

Digital Media Literacy and the Politics of Childhood Innocence

Biographical Sketch

Julie C. Garlen is a Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Georgia Southern University.

Daniel E. Chapman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading at Georgia Southern University.

Type of Presentation

Individual presentation

Brief Description of Presentation

The construct of childhood as innocent ignorance and our anxieties about preserving that state drive parents and teachers to emphasize protection and surveillance, which are virtually obsolete in an age of easily accessed free digital porn. Here, we investigate the tension between this fetish of childhood innocence (Faulkner, 2010) and the reality of children's consumption of digital media, to include pornography.

Abstract of Proposal

Contemporary constructs of childhood innocence have been redrawn and reified over the last century through the perennial narrative that childhood is at risk. In the last few decades in particular, the massive expansion of digital media has drastically increased access to “adult” information, including pornography, further fueling the anxieties of parents who wish to prolong the state of unawareness that is characterized as innocence. This concern has been expressed in the U.S. context by Giroux (2000), Olfman (2009), and Levin and Kilbourne (2009), among others. These authors have highlighted the ways that corporate culture capitalizes on the sexualization of children, which has deleterious effects. For Olfman (2009) such a “sexualized society places all children at risk for internalizing impoverished models of gender and human relationships” (p. 1).

The construct of childhood as innocent ignorance and our anxieties about preserving that state drive parents and teachers to emphasize protection and surveillance, which are virtually obsolete in an age of easily accessed free digital porn. We assert that this approach renders children more vulnerable to the very dangers we seek to protect them from. By denying them the language with which to discuss and understand social realities, we afford no opportunity for self-protection, reinforcing their sine qua non social status. Here, we investigate the tension between this fetish of childhood innocence (Faulkner, 2010) and the reality of children's consumption of digital media, to include pornography.

Start Date

2-24-2018 2:50 PM

End Date

2-24-2018 4:20 PM

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Feb 24th, 2:50 PM Feb 24th, 4:20 PM

Digital Media Literacy and the Politics of Childhood Innocence

Contemporary constructs of childhood innocence have been redrawn and reified over the last century through the perennial narrative that childhood is at risk. In the last few decades in particular, the massive expansion of digital media has drastically increased access to “adult” information, including pornography, further fueling the anxieties of parents who wish to prolong the state of unawareness that is characterized as innocence. This concern has been expressed in the U.S. context by Giroux (2000), Olfman (2009), and Levin and Kilbourne (2009), among others. These authors have highlighted the ways that corporate culture capitalizes on the sexualization of children, which has deleterious effects. For Olfman (2009) such a “sexualized society places all children at risk for internalizing impoverished models of gender and human relationships” (p. 1).

The construct of childhood as innocent ignorance and our anxieties about preserving that state drive parents and teachers to emphasize protection and surveillance, which are virtually obsolete in an age of easily accessed free digital porn. We assert that this approach renders children more vulnerable to the very dangers we seek to protect them from. By denying them the language with which to discuss and understand social realities, we afford no opportunity for self-protection, reinforcing their sine qua non social status. Here, we investigate the tension between this fetish of childhood innocence (Faulkner, 2010) and the reality of children's consumption of digital media, to include pornography.