An investigation of the influence of parental guidance on children's television viewing in the Mafikeng area of the North West Province
Zwane, Purity Zamagugu
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Previous research has shown that children spend more time watching TV than on any other activity except sleeping, and by the age of 18 years a child has spent more time in front of a TV than at school. While watching TV, children are not using their imagination, they are basically looking at what someone else has created. Though children are consumers of television, they are not pawns of this industry because they make sense of what they see on TV comparing it to what goes on in their homes and society. In other words, children do create meaning of what they see on TV. In this process of development, children are intensely active. The development of cognitive structures is universal and proceeds through the process of an active child both accommodating to and assimilating new cognitive events into his or her level of cognitive abilities. Left alone, children make their own assessment about reality of TV programmes. The question then arises: to what extent would the presence of a parent guide the children in understanding and appreciating the reality and fantasy in TV? This study has set out to find this relationship. A quantitative approach was used in attempting to answer this question. Questionnaires were used for both parents and children. The results have shown that a majority of children and parents spend more than three hours watching TV a day and over 20 hours a week. The study also found that more participation of parents in controlling their children's viewing habits is needed. Parents need to be given more information or be taught about the importance of parental guidance. It is not that there are no rules in these homes; the problem is that the parents are not firm in sticking to the rules. Parents do watch TV with their children, there is also discussions about the programmes or the content. One wonders to what extent and when do they really happen if children are up till late. In other words, parents do not play a positive role in mediating the effects of television on their children because some of the parents are heavy viewers. Finally, the study recommends that a policy should be developed that would inform parents on how they can monitor their children when watching television and using other media. If more support could be given to parents on the importance of parental guidance, they would be able to teach their children to be critical of the messages that the media sends through.
- Humanities