Exposure of Nigerian Children to Television and Video Violence and their Perception of Social Relations

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Onwubere, C.H
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Copious research studies from the Western World and sub-Saharan Africa, especially, those of Singer and Singer (1990-2001) have confirmed the high level of exposure of children to the electronic media and particularly, television. In Nigeria, the influence of violent television and video messages on children has not really been adequately addressed. This study was conceptualized to serve as a reference point for curriculum developers and media educators in the educational sector of Nigeria, as well as media regulators in the broadcast industry. This study investigated the relationship between the exposure of Nigerian children to electronic media violence, and their perception of social relations. The Cultivation and the Observational Learning theories of mass media formed the theoretical framework for this study. The survey method was used for eliciting information from primary school children in Lagos State, in the South Western geo-political zone of Nigeria. The multi-stage systematic random and stratified sampling techniques were used in selecting 500 pupils from 10 schools in 5 Local Government Education Authorities in Lagos State. Amuwo-Odofin (n=100), Etiosa (n=100), Ikorudu (n=100), Mushin (n=100) and Surulere (n=100). The data collection instrument is the structured questionnaire. A total of 500 copies of the questionnaires were administered with a 100% return rate. The Data were analysed at three levels: univariate, bivariate, and multivavriate. The univariate level examined the background and characteristics of respondents. The bivariate analysis tested the eight hypotheses of this study, using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to calculate the Chi-Square test of significance; and the multivariate regressional analysis tested the relationships between (the demographic) and (the dependent) variables of the study. The findings revealed that majority of Nigerian children, 97% of the total respondents, are highly exposed to electronic media, especially the television. It also showed that females (55%) were more exposed to Electronic Media Violence (EMV) than the males (45%). Few of the respondents (29%) watch television and video for 4hours or more on an average day while majority of them (71%) watch for less than 4hours a day. This means that only a few of the respondents are heavy viewers going by Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory. Majority of the respondents, (58%) of those who consume EMV, watch television and video for between one and three days only in a week. Respondents who watch television between four and six days a week constitute 54% while those who watch for seven days make up 56%. The findings equally showed that children consume a lot of EMV through imported foreign television programmes and video items. Most of the respondents, (62%), consume EMV through imported sources while a few, (38%) consume EMV through local or indigenous television programmes and video items. Furthermore, majority (56%) consumed violent acts through the video items they watch more than the television. The analysis showed that there are significant positive relationships between class (level of education) and consumption of television violence (p < 0.001); source of television programmes and consumption of violence (p < 0.001). However, there are no clear-cut relationships established between exposure to television and consumption of violence; socio-economic status of respondents and consumption of violence. With the video, positive significant relationships existed between age and consumption of violence (p < 0.05); class and consumption of video violence (p<0.01) and source and consumption of violence (p < 0.01). Finally, the regression analysis showed that the socio-economic status of the respondents does not influence their exposure to and consumption of electronic media violence. However, it influenced their perception of social relations. The study revealed a significant shift from the Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory as it showed that Nigerian children who watch television and video for only three hours or less a day equally consume a lot of EMV; and the study has increased our understanding of the media habits of Nigerian children as well as their understanding of social reality in the Nigerian context. Since the results showed that females are more exposed to, and consume more EMV than the males, and that the children consume more violent acts from foreign programmes and videos items than from indigenous sources, their excessive exposure to EMV, especially through the foreign sources results in their consumption of violent acts which may even be alien to the Nigerian society. Besides, there is the great risk of turning out more female children exhibiting risk and anti-social behaviours than male children. The study recommends that the government and media operators should initiate mass media campaigns to educate the citizenry on the negative effects of excessive exposure of children to violent electronic media products, as well as encourage the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to regulate the importation of violent video items, their distribution and use. Government, through the NBC, should equally encourage media operators in Nigeria to include in their schedules, more educational programmes that will occupy Nigerian children more meaningfully.
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos
Electronic Media , Children exposure , Mass Communication , Learning Theories , Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Other social sciences::Mass communication
Onwubere, C.H (2010). Exposure of Nigerian Children to Television and Video Violence and their Perception of Social Relations. A Thesis Submitted to University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation, 200pp.