The Introduction part of the text draws attention to some already existing studies and problems about the effect of violence in the media, though it concludes that there was no successful result to establish a causal relationship between media violence and social behaviour(p. 2), so the author’s focus is on prosocial TV programming. The aim of prosocial TV programs is described as fostering positive societal values, and stimulate socially desired behaviour(p. 2). The question is raised wether youth socialization should be guided, and to what extent, and where is the line between good intentions and social engineering? In response to these questions is the aim of studying the role of mass media in the process of youth socialization. It is clear that the study soncerns children and adolescents in the U. S. The body of the text consists of three main parts which are subdivided aswell. The first part points out the role of media in socialization and it’s problems.
Socialization is defined referring to communication scholars as a complex dynamic process of transfering society’s ideas and culture across generations, the ransmission of shared experiences and values to youth, by different socializing agents, for whom the given examples are parents, family, teachers and the church. Argument starts with the consideration of the fact that mass media is replacing or already has replaced the place of the primary agents of socialization, so to say, it became one of the main sources from where children get values, understanding, ways of thinking. It’s argued that children are socialized into adulthood earlier as there is the same content accessible for youngsters, adolescents and adults (Meyerovitz, 1985). It is necessairy to analyze the popular culture as a bacground of socialization.
According to some statistics, U. S. kids on avarage spend time with watching TV more than in school (Real Vision, 2004). TV, as source of a huge amount of different and controversial information supposes the greatest challanges for children ever (Firestone 2003), and parents find great difficulties in parenting generated by the television according to national survey. The auhor suggests that with the help of the family children could critically select valuable prosocial programs, though there is not a consensus about prosocial values in American society. The next part aims to give a theoretical background for the understanding of socialization, considering Piage’s social cognition theory as a perspective, which says that at different ages children go through different stages of development, and this suggests that we can be aware of he problems arising at a certain age of a child and we can use prosocial programs in order to help to deal with these problems.
Another perspective is Bandura’s social cognitive theory, where children acquire social skills by observing other people’s behaviour and imitating it. Watching TV may be a kind of observation, so if children watch positive characters on TV they might be more likely to act positively according to Bandura (1994, p. 121). In the new conceptual models of socialization there are different socializing factors working in different systems. Children’s overall values, attitudes, social relations and habits and activities are directly related to the results of interplay within the socialization factors (peers, famly, socio-demographic background, media etc.). In this context, prosocial TV programmes can play a role aswell, according to the authors. The third part starts with facts of researches on prosocial TV programs. According to some results, TV plays a crucial rol in socialization (along with other source of influence), and children can learn not only behavioural patterns, but also ideas and attitudes.
A conceptual definition of the term prosocial television is ’television that models socially valued behaviors, responses, attitudes or beliefs’ (Ettema, 1986, p. 143). After considering researches and concepts, the authors make an analysis of the history os American children’s television between the 1960s and 2000s. Many entertaining programmes for children contain prosocial messages, but some researchers still argue that prosocial programs has to be distinguished from entertaining and educational ones (Calvert, 1999). The authors suggest that prosocial programs’ teaching children what’s right or wrong should serve as a counterbalance to television’s negative effects.
Bandura (2002) emphasises that electronic media has a big part in observational learning so it should be guided by and considered togeher with other socializing agents such as parents or the school. TV’s influence and images get internalized on a community level so itshould be carefully selected what can serve for positive socialization, according to the authors. In the conclusion, they point out that prosocial programming should happen on a community level rather than nationally, and aswell as more re-exeminations and empirical testings and researches are needed in order to explore ways of constructing prosocial programs.