THE EFFECTS OF WATCHING VIOLENT TELEVISION CONTENT AND PROGRAMS ON YOUTH’S TENDENCY TOWARD VIOLENCE IN BUEA MUNICIPALITY CAMEROON
|JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATION
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1.1 Background to the Study
One of the notable changes in our social environment in the twentieth century is the advent and saturation of mass media. In this new environment, radio, television, movies, videos, video games, and computer networks have assumed central roles in our daily lives.
For better or for worse, the mass media are having an enormous impact on our values, beliefs, and behaviours. Unfortunately, the consequences of one particular element of mass media exposure have particularly detrimental effects on viewers’ and others’ health.
Research evidence has accumulated over many years that exposure to violence on television and in video games increases the risk of violent behaviour on the viewer’s part just as growing up in an environment with real violence increases the risk of violent behaviour.
In this review, we critically assess the research evidence that leads us to this conclusion, and we lay out the psychological theory that explains why exposure to violence has detrimental effects for both the short term and the long term.
There have been a series of media reports of unabated cases of violence among youths in tertiary institutions in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Cult clashes among rival secret cult groups have left many persons; cult members, innocent students, and workers dead or seriously wounded.
Observable evidence shows an increase in incidents of armed robbery, rape, kidnapping, and hired assassinations among students in these tertiary institutions. Newspapers have multiple examples of these incidents (Azuatalam and Olaniyi, 2009).
The degree of violence among these students constitutes a major problem that makes the students fearful of school because of the kind of harassment they experience from their fellow students.
When this kind of problem happens in tertiary institutions, it impedes the productivity of teachers’ and students’ performance and concentration. This problem is fast becoming a normal part of the academic experience which Nigerian students must learn to either tolerate or join the violent group.
This indeed has become a worrisome issue. Scholars and social commentators have often wondered why a young person would work seems hard to gain admission to a tertiary institution and then suddenly abandon his studies and get involved in cultism and other violence-related criminal behaviour.
Most scholars have suggested that the cause may be traced to the influence of hard drugs, poverty, family environment, peer pressure, political influence, etc (Severin and Tankard, 2001).
Violence cuts across generations, it affects every segment of society and it is particularly common among school-going youths and adolescents. Youth violence especially on campus is a serious problem for students in tertiary institutions and for which they receive limited help.
Television violence could be classified as programs that contain scenes and sequences of; murder, aggressive sexual acts, ritual killings, maiming, blood spilling, armed robbery, kidnapping, war, fighting, quarrelling, shouting, and the use of firearms and other dangerous weapons such as clubs, truncheons, and baseball bats.
Violent crimes on the other hand include criminal activities perpetrated by people who usually involve the use of physical force, dangerous weapons, or firearms.
Empirical works of scholars in mass media have shown that children and youths in particular often imitate what they watch on a social medium like television.
For instance, there have been serious concerns over the negative impact of television violence since the 1920s when many critics argued that motion pictures had a negative influence on children and youths.
These criticisms prompted the Payne Fund, a private philanthropic organization, to sponsor a series of 13 studies on aspects of movies’ influence on children in 1928.
After an examination of film content and impact on viewers’ behaviour, it was recommended that the movies were potent sources of information, attitude, and behaviour for the viewers including children and youths (Perry, 2002).
1.2 Statement of the problem
Research on violent television and films, videogames, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behaviour in both immediate and long-term contexts.
The effects appear larger for milder than for more severe forms of aggression, but the effects on severe forms of violence are also substantial when compared with the effects of other violence risk factors.
Short-term exposure increases the likelihood of physically and verbally aggressive behaviour, aggressive thoughts, and aggressive emotions.
Because extremelyviolent criminal behaviours (forcible rape, aggravated assault, homicide) are rare, new longitudinal studies with larger samples are needed to estimate accurately how much habitual childhood exposure to media violence increases the risk for extreme violence.
Well-supported theory delineates why and when exposure to media violence increases aggression and violence. All this explains the reason behind investigating the effects of television violent content on youth in Buea.
1.3 Research question
- To what extent does violent television content affect youths?
- Is there any relationship between watching violent TV programs and the tendency to apply violence to youths?
- To what extent do the TV program’s perceptions affect the way youths watch them?
1.4 Research Hypotheses
H01: There is no relationship between television program preference and perception of crime among youths
H2: Watching violent TV programs does not tend to apply violence to youths?
H3: Violent TV programs perception affect the way youths watch them
1.5 Research objectives
The purpose of the study is to determine the relationship between watching violent content of television programs and the tendency toward violence among youths.
- Specifically, the study sought to determine the relationship between watching violent TV programs and the tendency to apply violence among youths.
- And to ascertain the extent to which TV programs influence the way youths who watch them view violence.
- It also aims at determining the relationship between TV program preference and perception of violence among youths.
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