children and mass media the role of mass media in childhood socialization



1.1 Background to the Study

Media has turned the world into a global village. It is prominent tool and a best means of one way communication. So, it’s being widely used for everything and for any purpose. It has been playing a significant role in most of all social, political and development sectors due to its power to influence on attitude and behaviour of general public and its outstanding role to design planned and policy on national and international level (Okafor, 2002). The uses of media are intense in every aspect of social, political and economic development. Similarly, media is also playing a major role in promotion of children development. The media have made children more sociable in Edo state and every other city in Nigeria in which children are exposed to the activities of the media (Ambrose, 2007).  The term mass media is defined as a means of communication that operate on a large scale reaching and involving virtually everyone in a society to a great or lesser degree.

The mass media especially the visual media (television, films, and now the new media) are widely believed to be uniquely effective because of their visual advantage which enables the retention of attention among audiences, as well as „pre-occupying‟ especially for children and adolescents, even among some adults. One cannot talk of socialization without mentioning children because primary socialization occurs in children. Socialization is responsible for the transformation of a helpless infant, described as „a biological being‟ into a thinking, acting and talking normal human being, described as “a social being” , (Schramm, 2003).

Childhood on the other hand is a period of information seeking when the child‟s central concern lies in defining a coherent picture of the world. “For the 20th century child, the picture is apt to be broad and complex. The mass media especially the pictorial media to which they have access very easily expose them to the world far and beyond the limits of his immediate environment” (Strasburger,  2008). But unlike our own society where presently, the trend has been to screen primary and secondary school children in traditional dancing costumes. However, children are actually portrayed as entertainers to television viewers. “It is worrisome that if new strategies are not adopted whereby children would be exposed to a more expanded use of the media, they might grow into tradition directed, dance-oriented and violent adults”. According to Nnonyelu, (2009,p.21)  Living in a media-saturated world, the media has become an integral part of everyday life and children are spending between 35-55 hours per week on the different forms of media. However, with this constant exposure to media contents, it is not surprising that the question most often asked when a child behaves in a particular manner is: “what role did the media play in childhood socialization?” thus the thrust of this study.

Mass coverage on childhood socialization cannot be over looked. The term socialization is the process of learning interpersonal and interactional skills that conform with the values of one’s society (Nnonyelu, 2009).

Again, Socialization is a term used by sociologistssocial psychologistsanthropologistspolitical scientists and educationalists to refer to the lifelong process of inheriting and disseminating normscustoms and ideologies, providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society. Socialization is thus ‘the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained’.

Childhood socialization can be categorized into Primary and secondary. Primary socialization occurs when a child learns the attitudes, values, and actions appropriate to individuals as members of a particular culture (Strasburger,  2008). Primary socialization for a child is very important because it sets the groundwork for all future socialization. Secondary socialization refers to the process of learning what is the appropriate behavior as a member of a smaller group within the larger society.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The influence of mass media on children may be insidious and have led children to building false ideals and negative social behaviour. Mass media have affected the academic performance of Nigeria children. Mass media have contributed immensely to moral decadence in our society today. This poses the problem which this study wishes to look at. The influence of the media on the social and psychosocial development of children is profound. Thus, it is important for experts and physicians to discuss with parents their child’s exposure to media and to provide guidance on age-appropriate use of all media, including television, radio, music, video games and the Internet. Today, television particularly movies has become a leading sex educator for children in Nigeria. This is a problem that is difficult to control.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The objective of this study is therefore stated as follows:

i.            To examine the impact of mass media on the social development of children.

ii.            To explore the benefits and the impact of the mass media on children’s socialization.

iii.             To examine the negative impact of mass media on children.

iv.            Do children imitate movie character, sing an advertising song, or show other impressions of what they learn from media.

1.4 Research Questions

In this study, an attempt will be sufficiently made to answer the following questions.

1. Do mass media have direct impact on the social development of children?

2. What are the benefit of mass media on children socialization?

3. Do mass media have negative effect on the life of children?

4. Are the children that have access to mass media more socialized?

1.5 Scope of the Study

The research is limited to children and the mass media that is, observing the role of the mass media on childhood socialization within the context of Auchi Polytechnic Primary School

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