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1.1       Background to the Study

            Television is the most powerful and influential medium of communication around the globe. Due to its powerful effect, educational programmes are presented on television stations. In the same manner, overall television viewing influences the lifestyle of children in different manners. Television is an agent of socialisation. Media and especially the television can play a vital role in the learning process among young children.

            The period from 6-12 years is a critical period in the child’s achievement drive. At this stage, the child has to learn the academic subjects and as well, the child also has to relate itself to its peers. Today, television as a means of entertainment and information is a common asset in people’s homes. Although it is watched by everybody at homes, children spend more time watching it than the adults who are busy engaging in different socio-economic activities (Edgar and Edgar, 2011).

            Though television acts as “window on the world” which exposes children in an informal learning setting to a wide range of information and experiences, adults can control what they watch and are able to know that most of the television programmes are for entertainment purposes, Kader (2006) remarks that children watch television for what gratifies them. Parents, educators and social scientists perceive television as a villain because some of these programmes are violent in nature, although they may not appear to be explicitly violent. However, television needs not be viewed solely as a negative force. It has its advantages (Kader, 2006).

            Television offers lots of benefits to children. Television can teach children important values and life lessons. Cultural programming can open up the world of music and art for young people. Documentaries can help develop critical thinking about society and the world. News, current events and historical programming can help make young people more aware of other cultures and people. Educational programming can develop young children’s socialisation and learning skills. Through television, young people can share cultural experiences with others.

            Television can help children learn about a variety of subjects. Television and programmes can motivate children to read books. Children can build analytical skills by discussing educational programmes will help children to think, solve problems and predict, making television viewing a more active experience. Developing thinking skills will benefit children for the rest of their lives. Also, advertising develops children’s lives. Also, advertising develops children’s thinking skills. Parents can explain the purpose of advertising to children and alert them to any deceptive tactics (Anderson et al, 2001).

            Some children who spend time viewing educational programmes tend to have higher grades. Television can open up new worlds for children, giving them a chance to travel the globe, learn about different cultures and gain exposure to ideas they may never encounter in their immediate community. Parents prefer channels like Discovery, History, Animal Planet, ESPN because children gain academic knowledge from these channels. Children learn academic and pro-social content from specifically designed educational programmes on television (Kamaruzaman, 2009).

            Good role models on television can positively influence children (Burton, 2003). Children are influenced by people they see on television. As children see their favorite characters making positive choices, they will be influence in a good way. Educational television programmes encourage children to try new things (Samrat, 2008).

            As children get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities such as being physically active, reading, doing homework, playing with friends and spending time with family. Excessive television viewing can impede language skills, which are best developed through reading and interactions with others in conversation and play (Samrat, 2008).

            Parents have to take a stand when it comes to television. Parents should choose the right television programmes that are appropriate for children. The content of the programme must be appropriate for a child’s age. Children should be allowed to watch programmes with shorter duration. The longer children watch, the more the chances of them getting addicted (Anderson et al, 2003). Television can affect a child’s brain development and influence their behaviour. Television truly can have a positive effect on children, but it is up to the parents, caregivers and educators to ensure that children’s viewing experiences are enriching them and not damaging.

            This brings to the fore the investigation of parents’ perception of television’s influence on the educational development of children in Uyo. The questions relate to the types of television programmes that should be transmitted on television to facilitate educational development. Other questions are: What Is the influence of television programmes on children’s education? How do parents perceive television’s influence on the educational development of children? Again, what do children learn from the programmes they devote their time to watch? 

1.2       Statement of the Problem      

            The main aim of television is to educate in addition to informing and entertaining the people. Television is a medium which can help children acquire more knowledge to complement what they are learning in their various schools.

It appears beyond this, there are negative tendencies of the television. Some parents believe that television could get children obsessed and in turn, create adverse effects on their education. It appears also, parents in Uyo are worried about the rate of negativities transmitted on television to the children. Thus, what is the perception of parents about children’s exposure to television programmes vis-à-vis the educational development of children?

1.3       Objectives of the Study         

            The objectives of the study were to:

i.        find out parents’ perception of television’s influence on the educational development of children;

ii.      find out the kind of programmes children devote their time to watch;

iii.    ascertain what parents feel children learn from the programmes the children watch;

iv.    find out the purpose parents expose their children to television programmes.

v.      find out how the children are guided by their parents regarding contents of television programmes.

1.4       Research Questions

            The following  research questions were constructed to serve as a guide:

i.        How do parents feel about television’s influence on the educational development of children?

ii.      What kind of programmes do children devote their time to watch?

iii.    What do parents feel children learn from the programmes the children watch?

iv.    Why do parents expose their children to television programmes?

v.      How do parents guide their children regarding the time and contents of television programmes?

1.5       Justification for the Study

This study is justified in the sense that the findings of this study will help parents to give sound and well-informed parental guidance to their children in relation to what and when to watch and what not to watch on television. Practically, this study is an attempt to develop media literacy in both parents and children as it concerns television viewing. Examining parental mediation with the aim of identifying appropriate mediation strategies for young people’s positive attitude towards educational programmes on television is a pertinent skill of appropriately comprehending and utilizing television. This is what media literacy is all about.

            Another practical justification of the study lies in the truism that young people, as a very important segment of the society, are more vulnerable to negative television influence. This statement explains the need to study the influence of television programmes on children’s educational development in order to choose the right educational programmes for children to watch on television.

            This study, which found out parents’ perception of television’s influence on the educational development of children, has come up with findings that would provide a guide to parents, television industry, social workers, government, non-governmental organisations, schools and all stakeholders in young people’s development in bringing about the desirable socialisation of children.

            The findings of this study will ginger awareness, rekindle and reinforce the dimension of strategic parental role in monitoring the kind of programmes children watch on television and encouraging children to watch good educational programmes which would encourage both child and adolescent development. Thus, knowledge will be contributed in the applicability of psychology and communication theories in parent-child relationship for a healthy development of children. This study will therefore contribute to knowledge in the strong links among sociology, psychology and communication.

            The findings of this study will be useful to scholars in the above-mentioned disciplines, this study would add to the existing Nigerian/foreign literature that is available on the subject. Besides, it will add to knowledge by serving as a reference material to other researchers on the subject of parents’ perception of television’s influence on the educational development of children.

1.6       Delimitation of Study

            The study was delimited to parents in Uyo. The study aimed to find out parents’ perception of television’s influence on the educational development of children. The study will identify the influence of television on children’s education.

This study did not intend to study the influence of radio on children’s listenership of programmes. This study did not intend to review the influence of ICT on children’s viewership of programmes. This study did not intend to examine the influence of broadcast programming on children’s education.

1.7       Limitation of the Study

            In the course of carrying out this study, the major constraint was the reluctance by the respondents in filling the questionnaire and the research being able to meet up with the demands of fieldwork. But, all of these were surmounted through perseverance and persistent explanations to them that the work was for academic purposes only. Hence, the successful completion of this study.

1.8       Operational Definition of Terms

Children: A young male or female between the ages of 6-12 years.

Development: The process of children’s intellectual growth.

Education: The process whereby children gain knowledge, skills, ideas through learning.

Influence: The effects television has on children who are exposed to its contents

Parents: Male and female adults in Uyo urban who take care of children.

Perception: The way parents think and feel about the influence of television on children’s education in Uyo urban.

Television: Terrestrial and satellite audio-visual media watched by children in Uyo urban.

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