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Communication Begins with Children

A Lifespan Communication Sourcebook

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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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8. Parasocial Relationships and Children: ROBIN DUFFEE, SYDNEY COX, NARISSRA MARIA PUNYANUNT-CARTER

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ROBIN DUFFEE

The Pennsylvania State University

SYDNEY COX

Texas Tech University

NARISSRA MARIA PUNYANUNT-CARTER

Texas Tech University

In 1956, Horton and Wohl coined the term parasocial interaction (PSI) to describe the illusionary “face-to-face” interaction between a television persona and a television viewer. These interactions give the viewer an illusion of conversational give-and-take in which there is a “faux sense of mutual awareness” (Dibble, Hartmann, & Rosaen, 2016, p. 25). Continued parasocial interactions may cause a television viewer to develop a deeper sense of connection with a television persona that extends beyond a single viewing session. These long-term bonds are then considered parasocial relationships (PSR). The purpose of this chapter is to offer a broad overview of key concepts in parasocial communication research, highlighting in particular the different types of parasocial communication behaviors that children engage in. To this end, this chapter unfolds in four parts. First, this chapter will define parasocial interactions and parasocial relationships. Second, this chapter will review relevant research on the formation and maintenance of children’s parasocial relationships. Third, this chapter will investigate the various potential effects of these relationships. Fourth and finally, this chapter identifies current limitations and potential opportunities in research about children’s parasocial relationships.

Defining Parasocial Interactions and Parasocial Relationships

Since Horton and Wohl’s original conceptualization of parasocial interaction was published in the 1950s, our technological landscape has continued to evolve, prompting communication scholars to expand...

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