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Communication Begins with Children

A Lifespan Communication Sourcebook


Edited By Thomas J. Socha and Narissra Maria Punyanunt-Carter

Communication Begins with Children: A Lifespan Communication Sourcebook seeks to transform the field of communication, arguing that the field must stop neglecting and segregating children and instead adopt an age-inclusive lifespan approach that fully includes and fully considers children in all communication theorizing, research, and education from infancy and throughout the human lifespan. One-size-fits-all, adult-centric communication theorizing, researching, and educating is inadequate and harms the communication field’s potential as a social force for positive change for all communicators. The volume contains four sections (Foundations, Relational Communication Development, Digital Communication Development, and Navigating Developmental Communication Challenges) that showcase state-of-the-art chapters about the history of children’s relational and digital communication studies, methods used to study children’s communication, media literacy development, communication and children’s health, and much more. A must read for all communication researchers, educators, and students and an important addition to advanced and graduate level human and digital communication courses.

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2. End the Neglect of Children and Transform the Field of Communication: A Critical-Experiential Review and Research Agenda: THOMAS J. SOCHA


A Critical-Experiential Review and Research Agenda


Old Dominion University

This chapter, like this lifespan communication sourcebook, is offered as a touchstone for all who wish to transform the field of communication by repositioning children to its beginnings and its foundation. The chapter opens by framing the historic invisibility of children in the field of communication as a problem of symbolic “child neglect” attributed at least in part to white, male privilege. Next, the chapter offers a critical-experiential review of the past 40+ years of communication literature about children that covers the highlights and points out the costs of child neglect not only for this literature but for the entire communication field. Finally, building on the review, I argue that going forward the field of communication should adopt a comprehensive, functional, lifespan (CFL) meta-theoretical approach to communication theorizing, research, and education that has the potential to give the field of communication a second chance at becoming a more comprehensive, inclusive, and developmental field of study that champions all communicators.

Communication’s Neglect of Children

Throughout my 36-year career as a professor of communication, I have argued for the inclusion of children in communication theorizing, research, and education, especially in family communication (e.g., see Socha & Stamp, 1995; Socha & Yingling, 2010). Unfortunately, while it is universally ←29 | 30→acknowledged that children do in fact communicate, and with the exceptions of those whose work is reviewed in this...

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