Media Socialization

Lisa Dunne

Media Socialization

All 17 weeks of Lisa’s Media Socialization course, now complete on this site, remain archived here. The staff and site users thank Lisa for such an engaging class! — Ed.

Links to all lessons, a final exam, and the course syllabus for Media Socialization are near the bottom of this page. Begin with the October lessons and move forward through February to complete this course, which is broken down into weekly lessons.

I’m Dr. Lisa Dunne, a professor, author, pastor’s wife, and homeschooling mom. I’m looking forward to our time together here on Schoolhouse Teachers!

Maybe you’ve heard someone say, in defense of a musical selection, “I don’t listen to the words; I just like the beat.” Or, perhaps you’ve overheard someone in line at the grocery store, skimming the headlines of modern pop culture, explain, “I just like looking at these fashion magazines; I don’t believe what they say.” Does our social environment influence the way we think, feel, or behave?

Over the course of this class, we will analyze the impact of the social system on the individual, recognizing that the social context is much wider and more powerful than we may have once believed. By the end of the 16 weeks, students will be better equipped to evaluate the influence of mass media and its collective spiritual, psychological, and sociological impact on the church, the family, and the culture. Most importantly, students will learn how to apply the findings of media literacy and “walk with the wise.”

We will draw from current research as well as segments of two books I will provide summaries of through online links, Making Social Worlds (written by one of my favorite Ph.D. professors) and Emerge: Cracking the Cocoon of Media Socialization (which I wrote with Teen Mania/Acquire the Fire speaker Joel Johnson).

Strong foundation

As a teacher for over 17 years, I have found that the deepest transformational learning takes place when students actively and practically engage in the subject matter. Thus, each lesson will be followed by a reflective activity that will help you make practical sense of the information that has been presented. These will include some reflective journals, hands-on “lab” activities, and discussion prompts for family dinner conversation.

In the first chapter of the book of Romans, Paul tells the believers in Rome that they can change their behavior by changing their belief: “Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2). This concept of renewing the mind is a fascinating one from a neuroscientific sense, and we’ll talk more about that in a later lesson. For now, suffice it to say that the more we understand about science, the more clearly we see the fingerprints of God in the design of our hearts and minds.

Here’s a tentative outline of the lessons we’ll look at together:

Week 1: Course Overview

What does it mean to be a social creature? This week, we will analyze the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of social influence, as well as get a basic understanding of what it means to be “persuadable” as humans. For additional background on the topic, you will read Chapter Two: The Social Self from Emerge: Cracking the Cocoon of Media Socialization.

Week 2: Biblical and Scientific Bases for the Influence

This week, we will examine the theological and scientific evidence that exists for our social nature and our persuadable nature. We will review God’s design for culture and society according to the brain and the Bible.

Week 3: Self-Justification and Third-Person Syndrome

This week, we will look at the power of self-justification and get a better sense of why it’s hard for humans to believe we’re persuadable.

Week 4: A Brief History of Entertainment-Education

How can mass media use our persuadable nature against us? This week, we will cover a brief history of entertainment-education and its social implications. For additional reading, I’ll provide a link to the online chapter of Entertainment-Education from Emerge: Cracking the Cocoon of Media Socialization.

Week 5: Conformity and Culture

This week, we will discuss conformity and culture. Are there times we should conform? For a macro view of the impact of conformity, watch the documentary Expelled with your family. Discuss the culture of government education and its influences on the behavior and beliefs of the social system.

Week 6: Understanding the Power of Persuasion

This week, to better understand the power of mass media, we will create our own persuasive appeal.

Week 7: Peer Culture and Conformity in the Church

This week, we will look at the new grassroots uprising that is creating awareness about peer culture. We will review George Barna’s May 2012 study on youth ministry and Christianity Today’s August headline story on the “juvenilization” of church, as well as some other current research. Watch the documentary Divided with your family to learn more about this movement.

Week 8: Junk Food Media: Causes and Cures (Part 1)

This week, we will examine the role of advertising on the human brain, including some fascinating and compelling research on sociology, neuroscience, and physical health.

Week 9:  Junk Food Media: Causes and Cures (Part 2)

This week, we will continue our study of the role of advertising on the human brain, and we will track some social trajectories that highlight the Third-Person Syndrome concept we discussed in Week 3.

Week of December 17: Midterm Exam

January 2013

Week 10: Media Analysis: Movie Madness

This week, we will analyze the messages of mass media in modern movies and sitcoms. What worldviews are being peddled, and what is the potential for cultural and individual influence?

Week 11: Music Analysis: Labels, Lies, and Soul Ties

This lesson will review some fascinating (and frightening) research findings from the University of Virginia on the impact of music on the human brain.

Week 12: Tracking Social Trajectories: Impact on the Culture

This week, we will follow the social trajectories from our findings in the studies of movies, sitcoms, and music to see if these ideologies are having an impact on the larger social sphere.

Week 13: Tracking Self Trajectory: Impact on the Individual

This week, we will analyze the impact of movies, sitcoms, and music on our individual lives. We will chart a course for creating positive, prosocial influence in this realm.

Week 14: Becoming Media Literate

This week, we will review some great websites designed to help you become more media literate. Building on what we’ve learned throughout the course, we will create a base for media literacy in your home and your realm of influence.

Week 15: Emerge: Breaking Free

This week, we will summarize all the points we’ve covered and discuss ways for students to start becoming producers of culture, not simply consumers of culture.

Week 16: Making Social Worlds

Our final week of the course will be a reflection on the power of words and wisdom.

Week 17: Final Exam (Week of February 25-March 2)

          Take Dr. Dunne’s 25-question “final” to cement your knowledge in this course. Feel free to use the Ask a Question feature (link below) to send your answers to what you feel are the more challenging questions to Dr. Dunne for her feedback.

Download course syllabus

Go to the 2012 Archived Lessons.

Go to the 2013 Archived Lessons.

Dr. D.

For the last 17 years, Dr. Lisa Dunne has worked as an educator in the fields of psychology, English, humanities, and public speaking. She holds a Ph.D. in human development and a Master’s degree in communication studies, and she is the author of several books and the recipient of several local and national writing awards. Dr. Dunne’s educational accolades include honors from Who’s Who among America’s Teachers, Teacher of the Year, and recognition from the City and County of San Francisco for her work in the two-year college system. She loves helping Millennials discover God’s design for their lives! As an actor and director, Dr. Dunne has performed in over 75 productions from Key West to London, where she met her husband, Adrian, in 1988. He is the lead pastor of Artisan Christian Church, and together the Dunnes homeschool their beloved children, Ethan (14) and Cymone (8) as well as run homeschool academies connecting members of 35 churches in northern California. Their most recent venture was the launch of a new partnership with CollegePlus, California International Christian University: Higher education for the next generation. Learn more at! When they aren’t teaching, speaking, pastoring, or homeschooling, the Dunne family enjoys hiking, biking, and vegetarian cooking.