This article throws light upon the two major mediums of mass media for moral development of a child. The mediums are: Television and Cinema 2. Print Media.
Mass Media For Moral Development: Medium # 1.
Television and Cinema:
During the present times, it is the television and the cinema which have the strongest impact. In every house there is a television set, and, to find even a baby younger than two, being attracted towards it, is not surprising.
As its appeal is very attractive, and it involves the greatest possible number of senses, therefore its impact is strong. Parents may be heard complaining against the obsession of their school-going children with this electronic media. What is true of the television is also true of the cinema. The two are the most stimulating means of entertainment.
As the television and the cinema make so strong an impact upon the growing child, their educative value is also very high. If educative serials, which are both highly interesting and educative, are produced, keeping in consideration the physical and mental maturity levels of the children, no teaching aid can surpass these.
For the teaching of both physical and social sciences, the electronic media would prove very interesting and very effective.
Good manners may effectively be taught through demonstration in serials on the television screen. Short stories, teaching lessons in co-operation, truthfulness, service and so on, may be the themes of serials to help in inculcating these moral or social qualities.
Almost in all developed, and in many developing countries, video cassettes have become an indispensable material in the system of distance education. Other educational organisations of higher national and even regional levels, prepare their educational programmes for the interested television viewers.
We, in India, are well- acquainted with the UGC programmes which serve the educational interests of students/scholars related to different faculties or branches of learning.
Now, important scientific experiments can be telecast for a number of people. Knowledge of many researches can effectively be spread among the masses. Especially, since the beginning of the latter half of the twentieth century, we have been experiencing explosion in knowledge. The electronic media and also other means of mass communications, the latest being Internet, have immensely boosted this explosion.
Since here, we are to limit ourselves to the effects of mass media on children, and, that too, in respect of social and moral qualities, our main thrust will be on this aspect only.
Here, I am quoting a few words from a book published in the seventies: “Children tend to react emotionally, physically and morally to movies”.
“… too frequent attendance at movies may prove far too stimulating to a nervous or high strung child … there must be definite restriction on the type of movie, he is allowed to see.”
Since then, the use of the television has very much increased hence its evil effects should be properly highlighted. Long hours spent in front of the television sitting, with full concentration on the screen, are strenuous and causes fatigue to the child.
The sleeping hours of the child are disturbed. A child can play less because of his attending to the television for long hours. Thus, too much of a television is not in the interest of the physical/ motor development of the child.
To a young child, everything that happens on screen seems like real events, with the result that he views with rapt attention for a long period. That may harm his vision, too, more so if the child is not sitting at an adequate distance from the television set.
Sometimes, the scenes or events happen to be so full of violence, and terrifying that the child is horrified. His mental condition becomes so disturbed that he can hardly be at ease or sleep—we know, the child takes all the scenes and events to be real happenings.
And, if the adults in the family continue watching the television programmes till late in the night, again, the child will not be able to have full sound sleep. All these conditions have their deleterious effect upon both the physical and mental health of the child.
If too much attachment to the television continues through adolescence, it proves highly detrimental to the moral development of the child as the television serials (or the cinema pictures), generally, happen to be full of sex and violence.
Crime pictures may suggest an undesirable type of behaviour pattern by which the innocent children are more likely to be affected. And, the delinquents may like to escape to that screen-world for the time-being. The more unpleasant, non-stimulating and unhappy situation a child has to live in, the more likely he would be inclined to escape into the screen-world for temporary relief.
Such a child may grow too weak to boldly face the hard realities of the world. Increase of violence in the child’s games, is also a result of serials and pictures suggesting aggressive behaviour patterns.
In April’ 1999, in the suburban school of Littleton, near Denver (the USA), in one of the deadliest school massacre, children fell prey to the firing by two students of another high school, who too were found dead in the school library—the death toll was as high as 25 (23-1-2). The impact of the television or the cinema was suspected to be there in that incident.
Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that movies have tremendous educational utilities—what the children would not like to listen when taught by their teachers or elders of the family, would pay utmost heed when taught through a television programme or a movie.
Mahatma Gandhi has written in his autobiography that the play of Raja Harish Chandra made him adhere to the policy of honesty and truthfulness strictly throughout his life. The television programmes and cinema pictures can stir the feelings of the viewers, more so of the youngsters, and broaden their outlook in such a way that they may start thinking more of their society rather than of their own self.
These programmes may awaken the adolescents to the burning problems of the society. Serials or pictures based on life-stories of the great personalities of the past or present may prove very stimulating, and set in the process of identification or emulating. Thus, the spirit of social service, patriotism or love for the widest society of the entire world, may be inculcated.
The children and adolescents are more impressionable; and the impressions created upon their mind happen to be more enduring. If they see how one behaves with the other, how the youngsters show their respect to the elders, and how the elders sacrifice their own comforts for the sake of their youngsters, these would prove very effective lessons in social manners.
The songs, dances and other forms of artistic expressions, may sweeten our life, and may greatly help in the inculcation of aesthetic sense, and in sublimating us to a higher level of living. Acting is a strongly effective means of sublimation, and hence, of making our society more cultured. But, the cumulative effect of serials and films with the dominance of sex in them may result in the laxity of character in our youth.
Mass Media For Moral Development: Medium # 2.
Children’s interest in magazines, journals and newspapers, is first stirred because of pictures and cartoons, if the same are there. Only when they have developed practice in reading the newspaper and magazine, they can be interested in reading them.
The other way round is also correct—good and attractively illustrated newspapers may make the children feel interested in attempting to read the same. However, the newspaper is an effective mass media only for adolescents and youngsters, not so much for the young children.
Up to the age of 12, a child, in general, prefers to read comics. By the time he attains the age of 14, he inclines more towards sports news. It is, generally, not before 16 or so that an adolescent starts showing keen interest in general knowledge.
Now, he would like to know news of different sorts related to politics, diplomacy, peace and war, science and explorations or inventions, and of course, those related to sports, television programmes and films, and other matters of interest. It is the time by which some develop a keen penchant for arts. It is a little later that news related to economics attract the youth.
Thus, for the adolescents and youth, the print media serves as an effective means to widen the horizons of thinking. As a result of the media’s impact on them, they would start thinking of issues in a wider, social perspective.
The print media can keep their knowledge abreast with the latest social developments, and, hence they should be expected to be in a better position to address to the social and moral problems that our society may be facing.
Thus, the regular reading of the newspaper is very much likely to develop such social qualities as objectivity, sympathy/empathy, co-operation in the solution of social problems, leadership and so on. Due to these, and such other qualities, one’s moral standard would also rise.
Regarding the total impact of mass media, Mead wrote as early as 1963, that the present low standards of ethical behaviour in many parts of our society reflect the breakdown of parents’ ability to give children clear ethical direction, within a scene that has been changing too rapidly’.
It was her estimation of changes during the early years of the seventies. Now, in the 21st century, we can better recognise the tremendous change which the mass media has brought about.
A few words of Mead should be quoted here for a better appreciation of how correct she was in her estimation, “when television and radio were brought into the home… the capacity of the parents to give moral direction further reduced.”
If parents want their authority to be revived in this respect, they will have to develop new and more powerful ways to issue directions for desirable moral and social development of their wards.
Before summing up the article, I would like to refer to what was published in a largely circulating daily, as it warns the guardians against the novel problem that advancement in computer technology has posed before them. The Internet has made contact with friends of the opposite sex both easy and swift.
A girl asked the counselor, “Should I meet him?” She confessed that she had met him on the web several months ago. The paper reports: “Delhi school authorities who already have their hands full with infinite adolescent blues, are now grappling with a new malaise— cyber mania.
An alarming number of senior students spend more time on the Net than with their books… at least six hours a day, adversely affecting grades and home life.”
Thus, surfing porno sites on the web, puts a new and serious onus on the guardians, and on the society as a whole, to develop a strongly effective agency, which may successfully counter the misuse of such a beneficial scientific technology.