The Socialization Theory of Mass Communication states that prolonged exposure to mediated messages teach us about our world, and our roles within it. In this theory media consumers come to believe that the reality portrayed by television and movies is the same as the actual real world.
Socialization is very similar to the Cultivation Theory. They both are about the effects prolonged exposure to media messages that functions to teach us about our world and attitudes within it.
Children are especially venerable to the effects of Socialization. TV and other mediums depict aspects of adult life like sex, drugs, violence, or even just a different kind of vernacular. This socializes children into the world of adults more quickly than in previous generations. Socialization creates a increasingly homogenized society. Children and adults talk the same, dress the same and act the same.
This highly risque version of a high school teenager overtime will socialize young girls that this overt sexuality to accepted and praised. The sexualization of our society is creating children who look and act like adults as well as adults who strive to be this young sexy version of a teenager.
According to Van Evra in 2004 “cumulative media effects on children are greatest when purpose of viewing is diversion and when they perceive media content to be real.” Socialization is also enhanced when the frequent viewers have little information and life experience to be able to determine reality and the media’s version of reality.
Children from other countries are highly susceptible to the theory of socialization. If a child in France sees a comedy about a typical American household, they are likely to take that television show and apply the characteristics to all American families.
For example the popular situation comedy “Full House” is about an a-typical American family. Foreigners or people with little experience in American family cultures might see this sitcom as reality instead of the written, stylized television show it is.
Socialization creates almost prototypes of families, individuals or situations. They are not depictions of real life, rather they are depictions of the perfect family, individual or situation.