people today are exposed to much more political media content than any prior generation. This exposure can contribute to greater awareness of government and opportunities for civic action. Digital communication technologies offer people increased opportunities for taking part in politics via media, such as posting to a blog or participating in a “ tweetup ,” using the microblogging platform Twitter to inform people about a political event taking place online or offline. Scandal Coverage The influence of mass media on children’s attitudes toward leaders and government has become more negative over time, as media messages focus more on personal scandals and institutional dysfunction. For the most part, young children’s initial views of politics tend to be positive. Studies conducted in the 1960s showed that children idealized the president. They considered him a benevolent leader, someone who did good things for the country and would help a child personally. Even during the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, which involved a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters and a cover-up by President Richard Nixon, children held strong, positive feelings about the office of the president. Children learned about President Nixon’s impeachment primarily from their parents and teachers, and not from the mass media. Media accounts focused on the political aspects of the Nixon impeachment, which went over the heads of most children. Many parents felt it was important to instill positive views of government in their children during this period of political upheaval. The situation was much different in the 1990s when children learned about President Bill Clinton’s involvement with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, predominantly from nonstop, graphic television coverage that focused on Clinton’s personal life. Young children became disillusioned with President Clinton because they felt he had not told the truth. For the first time, children’s views of the si tting president, as well as their opinions about the institution of the presidency, were significantly more negative than those of their parents. Fewer children aspired to become president when they grew up.  Hollywood and Washington The Payne Fund studies of motion pictures and youth, conducted between 1929 and 1933, provide early evidence that film can be a powerful agent of socialization. The studies found that people developed attitudes toward racial and ethnic groups, war, and crime based on their exposure to popular films.
Saylor URL: Saylor.org 236 Audience members who saw the controversial film Birth of a Nation believed that blacks in the post – Civil War era were uncivilized and dangerous. Children who watched their favorite movie stars, such as James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, playing criminals on screen imitated their behavior patterns by acting up in school.