The Role of Culture, School, and Media in Social and Emotional Development

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Everyone changes and grows throughout his or her life, but that change is influenced by many factors. In this lesson, we'll look at socioemotional development and how culture, school, and media, like television, impact it. Updated: 08/30/2019

Socioemotional Development

Ella is a mom. Her son Ralph is five years old, and she loves to watch how he changes. In just the past few years, he's gone from being a baby who didn't really interact with others to being a boy who loves to talk and play and sometimes argue with his parents and friends.

The process of change that all humans go through is called human development. There are many types of development, and they all happen at the same time. For example, Ralph has gone from being a baby who could only lie around to being able to crawl and then to walk and run. This is his physical development.

Meanwhile, he's gotten smarter. He's learned how to count and say his ABCs. This is part of cognitive development. And, of course, he's gone from not interacting with anyone to being a social creature. This is socioemotional development.

There are many things that influence a person's development. Let's look closer at three forces that affect socioemotional development: culture, school, and media.

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  • 0:03 Socioemotional Development
  • 1:11 Culture
  • 2:50 School
  • 4:03 Media
  • 5:17 Lesson Summary
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What does it mean to be emotionally and socially mature? What type of person should Ella expect Ralph to develop into?

A person's culture can have a profound influence on the type of person they develop into. There are some universal beliefs about how children should develop - socially and emotionally. For example, pretty much all cultures believe that murdering someone who is part of your community is a big no-no. So as Ralph grows up, he can expect to be taught that you shouldn't kill someone else.

But there are many culturally defined ideas of what social and emotional development means. For example, Ralph and his mom are Western. Ella grew up in America and is now raising Ralph in America. But Ralph's friend Lucy is from China. She only recently came to America, and her parents, who are both from China, too, are raising her with traditional Chinese values.

What does this mean for their social and emotional development? Well, there are some things that are different about their cultures. For example, Western cultures tend to value individuals, while Eastern cultures tend to value groups. Ella might encourage Ralph to stick out and be unique and take care of himself instead of relying on others as he grows up. On the other hand, Lucy's parents might encourage her to blend in to the group and to put more emphasis on what's good for the group, not on being unique or thinking of what's best for her.

Neither of these perspectives is better than the other; they are simply different, and their differences can also cause a difference in a child's socioemotional development.


Besides parents, perhaps the biggest influence on a child's socioemotional development is the school environment. This is not surprising. After all, children spend the majority of every day at school, so of course it will influence how they develop!

Take Ralph, for example. His school focuses on a new social lesson every week. One week, they talked about kindness and being nice to others. It made Ralph aware of when he was being mean and made him try to change his behavior.

Another week, they talked about self-confidence and believing in yourself. Ralph and his classmates made a list of the things they were good at, and it made Ralph feel good about himself.

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