Sexualized Media Messages and Our Children
Teaching Kids to Be Smart Critics and Consumers
by Jennifer W. Shewmaker
February 2015, 182pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3333-5
$55, £43, 48€, A76
Please contact your preferred distributor for pricing.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3334-2
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With proper guidance, children can become proactive, skeptical consumers.

This provocative book takes a look at children's consumption of sexualized media messages while providing parents, teachers, and professionals with strategies for abating their influence.

In this eye-opening book, experienced child psychologist Jennifer W. Shewmaker contends that the manner in which a child is raised influences how they respond to media messages, particularly those shaded by sexual overtones. This text takes a hard look at the impact of advertisements, products, and entertainment on a child’s psyche and offers strategies for helping kids become critical, active media consumers.

Drawing from research in a wide variety of disciplines, this book explores the interpersonal factors within children’s lives that impact how they learn to process sexualized media messages. The book argues that an increase in marketing to children along with media-based fabrications of beauty, masculinity, and femininity impact the confidence and character of young children who are often greatly affected by what they see and hear. The author shares invaluable tips for promoting strengths in children and adolescents of both genders and presents the protective influence of communities to help children dismiss distorted media images.


  • Provides a quick overview of previous works in child development, communication, and education
  • Discusses four mediating variables influencing children's values: culture of celebrity, family factors, gender, and community systems
  • Includes an "In Their Voices" section featuring specific responses from children, adolescents, parents, and professionals
  • Covers television, movies, music, and other media
  • Demonstrates the impact of both positive and negative media messages
Jennifer W. Shewmaker, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at Abilene Christian University (ACU) and is a nationally certified school psychologist. She is a founding board member of the Brave Girls Alliance, an international partnership of parents, professionals, and small business owners advocating for healthy, empowering media for children. She received her bachelor's degree in psychology from ACU and her doctorate in school psychology from Texas Woman's University.


"Using the ideas and suggestions in this book, both individuals and groups of children could be helped to become sophisticated reactors to powerful media influences that focus on their potential as sexual objects. The book is clearly written, and the chapters are well referenced with research literature in the field. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, professionals, and general readers."—Choice, July 23, 2015

"(Shewmaker) successfully demonstrates the impact of sexualized media on children and how parents and professionals can teach children to be media critics . . . clearly written, well-supported and engaging . . . this eye-opening book contributes a well-researched, practical solution to a major problem affecting children and adolescents, as well as a call to action by parents and professionals.”—Journal for Youth and Adolescence, November 19, 2015

“We’ve needed a book like this for a long time. One not simply filled with information about the problem of sexualization, but a toolbox overflowing with practical ideas and conversation starters to have with children both at home and in the classroom. Enormously helpful.”—Collett Smart, registered psychologist and educator

“To be a parent today requires endless energy and vigilance when it comes to sexualized media that, like an unwanted guest, follows our children everywhere, even into our own homes. Dr. Shewmaker’s book, Sexualized Media Messages and Our Children: Teaching Kids to Be Smart Critics and Consumers, combines academic scholarship with her personal experience as the mother of three daughters. The result is both a lens and a toolkit for understanding and combatting the insidious seep of stereotypes and inappropriately sexualized messaging directed at today’s kids. Raising critical consumers in our commercialized and over-sexualized culture is imperative. Let this book be your roadmap.” —Lori M. Day, M.Ed., Ed.S., educational psychologist and author of Her Next Chapter: How Mother-Daughter Book Clubs Can Help Girls Navigate Malicious Media, Risky Relationships, Girl Gossip, and So Much More

"From studly superheroes to neutered nerds, from hot women to helpless princesses, we all know that mass media rely heavily on sexual and gender stereotypes. Jennifer Shewmaker brings a deep, clear, and well-articulated understanding of how to do something about it: teach children and teens, girls and boys(!), to be critical consumers of the media they encounter every day. This book is a must read for parents, teachers, and anyone who wants children and teens to make their own decisions and develop their own values."—Andrew P. Smiler, author of Challenging Casanova: Beyond the stereotype of the promiscuous young male and co-author (with Chris Kilmartin) of The Masculine Self, Fifth Edition.
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