Family, Peers, and The Media

Influences on Your Child's Life and Development

Child Rearing Style

As a parent, one of the greatest influences you can have on the development of your child is the parenting style that you employ when interacting with them. There are several parenting styles and each will impact development in a variety of ways regarding behavioral and social development. (Hughes, 2014)
  • Authoritarian Parenting: In this style of parenting children are expected to follow strict rules set by parents. Parents have high demands but are not responsive to their children. Effect on Children: This parenting style leads to children who are obedient and proficient but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self esteem. (Cherry, 2015)
  • Authoritative Parenting: This parenting style also has a strict set of rules to follow but also includes being more responsive and willing to listen to questions, being more nurturing, supportive, forgiving and less punishing than Authoritarian parents. Effect on Children: This parenting style results in children who are happy, capable, confident and successful. (Cherry, 2015)
  • Permissive Parenting: This style is also referred to as indulgent parenting. Parents rarely discipline and there are very few demands on the children. Expectations for maturity and self-control are low. These parents are nurturing and communicative and take on a role of friend. Effect on Children: Children rank low in self-regulation and have issues with respecting authority. This can lead to behavior issues and poor performance in school. (Cherry, 2015)
  • Uninvolved Parenting: This parenting style imparts few demands, responsiveness to the child is low and there is little communication. Only basic needs are met and parents are generally detached from their children's lives. Effect on Children: Children raised in this way tend to lack self control, lack self esteem, and are less competent in many aspects than their peers. (Cherry, 2015)
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Family Structure

There are implications for a child's development based on family structure. Families can consist of two parents, one parent, step-parents, or sometimes no parent. While it is recognized that there are many reasons why families take on certain structures, and circumstances are different for each family, studies show that there are lasting effects on children's social, academic and behavioral development.
  • Two parent households where mother and father are married and live with little conflict have the most beneficial effect on child development in regard to academic success , conduct, self-esteem and peer relationships. (Amato, 2005)
  • Single Parent households due to divorce can sometimes produce effects on children that make them less well adjusted than their peers living in a 2 parent household. They are more likely to have academic, behavioral , self-esteem problems. They are also more prone to weaker emotional bonds. (Amato, 2005) *Note that findings for families where there are 2 parents but a great deal of marital conflict, children ranked similarly to those in single parent households.
  • Children born out of wedlock, regardless of whether they live with both parents, have similar outcomes and experiences as those in divorced, single parent households. These children are likely to have some cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems and are also more likely to drop out of school and have lower incomes as adults. (Amato, 2005)
  • When a child lives in a single parent household due to the death of a parent there are also some emotional issues that may arise, but these children have less developmental problems than those in single parent households due to divorce. However, children raised in single parent households due to death, do have a higher instance of depression in adulthood. (Amato, 2005)
  • Children living in step-families tend to have similar problems as those who live in single parent households. Marriage of a single parent to a person other than the child's biological parent does not appear to improve the functioning of most children. This statistic does vary for African American families where the presence of a step-father is beneficial to the social and academic well-being of both boys and girls. Step-family environments can be stressful to children due to changes in where they live and go to school in addition to having to accept authoritarian rules from someone other than their mother or father. (Amato, 2005)
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Peer Relationships

Experiences in peer relationships can begin having an impact on child development as early as 2-3 years of age as they struggle for acceptance from classmates in preschool. Children who are competent with peers at an early age and show pro-social behaviors are more likely to be accepted by peers. (Haly, 2005) . Peer interactions take on significant importance again when in adolescence, peers can facilitate antisocial behavior.

Some positive ways in which peers can influence a child are:
  • Children can learn assertiveness skills
  • Children can practice conflict management
  • Children can learn respect and to control aggression
  • Relationships afford opportunities to discuss feelings and experiment with language.
  • Interaction allows for experimentation with social roles and development of self concept,


Possible negative experiences that can result from peer relationships:

  • Many shy children or those with lower self -esteem can more easily become victims of bullies which further damages their self concept and ability to function.
  • Aggressive children can become bullies.
  • Children with social difficulties tend to be excluded from everyday peer experiences which leads to feelings of discomfort, sadness and alienation. (Eurekalert, 2006)
  • Adverse peer experiences can be stressful and lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness especially in adolescence.(Eurkalert, 2006)
  • The desire to be accepted by peers can lead children to associate with individuals or groups that can negatively impact their emotional and social development
  • Peer pressure, especially in adolescence, can lead to unhealthy choices and relationships as teens experiment with social roles and development of self-concept.
  • Children who are different from the majority of peers in any way can be subject to bullies or relational aggression.
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Media and Technology

Media and technology are a big part of children's lives from the time they are very young all the way through adolescence. TV, Internet, Movies, Books and Magazines all have an effect on what children are exposed to and what those images and interactions mean to their development.
Positive ways in which Media and Technology Effect Child Development:
  • For very young children, watching educational TV shows can have a positive effect on their preparedness for school, especially watching Sesame Street. (Levine & Munsch, 2014)
  • Technology such as computers and tablets/ebook readers can enhance literacy. (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2014)
  • All forms of media can impact language acquisition (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2014)
  • Technology provides greater and easier access to information and builds personal knowledge. (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2014)
  • A wide range of digital tools are available to enhance reading comprehension and vocabulary development. (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2014)
  • Technology affords opportunities for children to access news and literature on culturally relevant materials. (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2014)
  • Technology has had positive effects on mathematics and test scores. (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2014)
  • Technology and Media both motivate and engage young learners. (O'Hara & Pritchard, 2014)

Negative ways in which Media and Technology Effect Child Development:
  • Children under the age of two have better cognitive development when TV is eliminated or very limited. (Levine & Munsch, 2014)
  • Texting and driving is dangerous and practiced frequently by teens ! (Levine & Munsch, 2014)
  • School age children often attempt to multitask, using more than one form of technology simultaneously and this leads to issues with attention and concentration on one task. (Levine & Munsch, 2014)
  • When TV is on in a room in the background it causes distractions
  • Watching too much TV takes time away from leisure reading, homework and studying for children aged 6-13. (Levine & Munsch, 2014)
  • Watching violent media, including video games, has been shown to increase a child's aggressive behaviors such as physical, verbal and relational aggression. (Levine & Munsch, 2014)
  • Girls often view unrealistic images of women leading to eating disorders and poor self-esteem. (Levine & Munsch, 2014)
  • Unsupervised use of social media and technology can lead to children accessing inappropriate content and can put them into dangerous situations with online predators.
  • Stereotypes are perpetuated on most forms of media with women and minorities being underrepresented. (Levine & Munsch, 2014)
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Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco

Adolescents may start using drugs, smoking or drinking alcohol for a number of reasons. For some it is as simple as peer pressure, fitting in with a particular group, or they may be modelling behavior they see at home regularly. The effects on teens can have catastrophic outcomes.

The sociological and physiological effects of alcohol include:
  • Teens who drink alcohol have decreased ability to pay attention. (Medicine Net, 2015)
  • They suffer memory loss. (Medicine Net, 2015)
  • Teen girls who abuse alcohol are more likely to be sexually abused or have sex with a stranger.
  • Alcohol use can lead to drug use. (Medicine Net, 2015)
  • Teens who abuse alcohol are more likely to involved in a violent death in a car or motorcycle accident. (Medicine Net, 2015)
  • High blood alcohol levels can lead to illness and death.
  • Drinking alcohol can lead to liver disease.

The sociological and physiological effects of tobacco use include:
  • Girls who smoke are more likely to grow unwanted facial hair. (Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine, 2015)
  • Teens who smoke suffer from reduced lung function and can develop emphysema or COPD. (Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine, 2015)
  • Smoking can lead to cancer.
  • Smoking causes skin blemishes
  • Teens who smoke catch colds more easily and the colds are more severe. (Partnership for a Tobacco Free Maine, 2015)
  • Smoking can cause trouble sleeping.

The sociological and physiological effects of drug use include:
  • An overdose of any drug can cause serious and sudden physical and mental damage. (Live Strong, 2015)
  • Injected drugs can lead to infections such as hepatitis, HIV/AIDS. (Live Strong, 2015)
  • Some drugs can be laced with other drugs and can be even more harmful. (Live Strong, 2015)
  • Drugs can prevent a child or teenager from developing proper coping skills. (Live Strong, 2015)
  • Drugs can impair memory and judgment. (Live Strong, 2015)
  • Participating in drug use can lead to violent crimes.(Live Strong, 2015)
  • Teens on drugs act impulsively and are more likely to drive while under the influence, have unprotected sex and share drug paraphernalia. (Live Strong, 2015)