Although Richard Flynn mainly describes the word culture in his essay from Keywords for Children’s Literature as being created by adults for children, he also states at the end that, “Culture is, of course, also created by children”. The way that children from the 19th century and children from the 21st century create that culture is very similar due to their consumption of popular media. This culture children create in their time is shared between them and is therefore a shared culture.
Robin Berstien described how children in the 19th century read books about slavery, like Unlce Tom’s Cabin, and then created narritives in their playtime about slavery through the use of dolls. Similarly, modern children read books and watch movies like Harry Potter and Star Wars and then post videos of themselves recreating scenes or making jokes on social media apps like TikTok. Both sets of children created a culture around the popular media for their time that they consumed. Although TikTok does allow children around the country to interact with each other, a child wouldn’t understand the interactions that take place on the app unless they had read/watched the book/movie the posts were about. Children from the 19th century didn’t have that communication however as Bernstien stated, they all had similar styles of play with their dolls do to the fact that they read similar books. Therefore the fact that both sets of children still had a shared culture for their time means that the culture children create is based off of the popular media they have access to and independently consume.
Unfortunately, the shared cultures children create can also go against the intended use of culture which as Flynn described was to “cultivate” or discipline children. Popular media can often include controversial opinions or ideas parents would deem inappropriate for children. Bernstein gives the example of 19th century children whipping their dolls since they read about slavery in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In the 21st century, children often see news of tragic events and joke about it online on apps like Tiktok. Although both examples are inappropriate in their own ways, it goes to show that the adult culture that creates popular media can influence the culture children create in a negative way. Therefore, we should consider what information children have access to and how they use it to create their own culture in order to help them spread a more positive and cultivating shared culture.