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Television and Social Behaviour

Television and Social Behaviour

Social behaviour is a term used to describe the general conduct exhibited by individuals within a society. It is essentially in response to what is deemed acceptable by a person’s peer group or involves avoiding behaviour that is characterized as unacceptable. This type of human behaviour primarily determines how individuals interact with one another within a group in society. Social behaviour is a totality of all the interaction that a child engage in ranging from his/her conduct for diction, dress sense and even preferences, it also means the way in which a person react to a set of condition. A more technical definition of social behaviour is that given by Hartup (1965, P. 122), social behaviour consist of activity elicited by stimuli emanating from people or activity which, in itself possesses stimulus value for people.

Cognitive behaviour refers to the ability to judge and reason effectively and having a perception of surroundings. Children cognitive ability is not as developed as that of adult; this has implication on the meaning that they make out of the things they watch on television. The age of the child is another factor that differentiate how television impact on the child. Wartella and Robb (2007, p. 42) note that children under two years of age are less able to systematically learn as much from television as they do from human interaction. Studies have shown that television has impact on children’s cognitive behaviour. The kind of impact television has however depend on the kind of content that children are exposed to. Children who watch educational programming are more likely have higher grades, read more books, place greater value on achievement, and show, more creativity than children who watch ore violent or purely “entertainment television (Diehl and Toelle, 2011, p.3).

While children are watching cartoons, there is a form of learning process that is going on. Whatever children learn while watching cartoons, they tend to act out thereby influencing their mode of socializing with other children and with the world in general. Baran and Davis (2009, p. 217). Citing Horace Newcomb’s book television: The critical view said “this book has useful insights produced by researchers in popular culture emphasizing the population media content generally, and television programming specifically are much more complex than they appear on the surface multiple levels of meaning are often present.

The above means that there is a lot more than goes on when a child is watching a cartoon. Some level of learning is going on. This will in turn affect the development of the child’s social behaviour as a whole. Baran and Davis (2009, p.2000) argue that “media have become a primary means by which many of us experience or learn about many aspect of the world ground”. Even when we do not learn about these ideas of the world from the media, we learn from other people who got their idea of the world from the media”.

Wilson (2008) also explores how media exposure affects children’s social development: it was established that violent television programming contributes to children’s aggressive behaviour. There is also an indication that playing violent video games can have the similar harmful effect on children. Invariably, if children spend time with educational programme and situation comedies targeted to youth, such media exposure can have more pro-social effects by increasing children’s altruism, cooperation and even tolerance for others.

The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

He is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mass Communication, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, COOU, (formerly Anambra State University), Igbariam Campus.

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