Impact of Watching International Television Programs on Adolescents in India: A Research Note [*]

By Varma, Archita | Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Winter 2000 | Go to article overview
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Impact of Watching International Television Programs on Adolescents in India: A Research Note [*]

Varma, Archita, Journal of Comparative Family Studies



Learning leads to a relatively permanent change in the behavior of an individual as a result of practice or experience. Apart from classical conditioning or instrumental conditioning, learning also includes cognitive learning. In a child, imitation is the commonest mode of learning. A child copies the behavior from others and responds like the stimulus to a fresh situation similar to the previous stimulus. A child might acquire a unique response that did not exist in the behavioral repertoire simply by observing the behavior of another individual. Media has been recognized from the 17th century as a vital component for learning and dissemination of information. Media has also effected modelling in a significant manner. Right through the middle of the 20th century, television has been the most effective medium for learning. Television programs have led to violence and childhood aggression (Cairns, 1990; Bushman and Geen, 1990). Television viewing increases aberrant sexual behavior as Brown and Newcomer (1991) have demonstrated promiscuous sexual behavior after heavy exposure to 'sexy' television shows. Regular viewing alters the aggressive and sexual behavior and mental processing of children (Singer, 1989).

In developing countries, masses have been exposed during the past 2-3 decades to limited exposure to television programs. Such programs have been confined to education of school children, though some programs relating to health care and social obligations have also been available in urban and rural communities. In the Indian subcontinent, international television transmissions became a reality during the late 1980's. The commercial organizations installed appliances to receive long distance television signals. An individual customer could receive such international programs through the support of various commercial organizations. That enabled an individual to watch the national as well as the international television transmissions. Such international transmissions have exposed the masses to different cultures and life-styles. A distinct change in hair style, language and dress is evident. Outfits imitating those used by popular singers, new hair styles, "Slang twang" and socially unconventional mannerism wou ld also appear to have become popular.

Investigations have been made to examine the psychological impact of international television transmissions in a population with a selected exposure to national and/or international television programs. Like other televised media, children and adolescents form the major audience for international television programs. A linkage has been sought between watching international television and its psychological impact among tennagers in the Indian capital metropolis. Psychological investigations on Indian teenagers who have been exposed, in the national capital metropolis of New Delhi, to international or national television programs for short duration indicate varying attitudes towards modelling.


Sample : The sample comprised of students from the Don Bosco school, the Mater Dei Convent and The Mother's International school located in the southern part of New Delhi. During the period of July 1992, 161 school leaving teenage students belonging to the age group of 15-18 years were interviewed. They were studying in the eleventh or twelfth grade in the 12 year program of the secondary education. Among them, there were 78 females and 83 males, while 82 had been watching long distance television programs (Table 1). An enquiry was made about the monthly household income of every participant. The participants were promised confidentiality about the individual response. Information about identity of the participant, hours spent in watching television, and family background were also obtained.

Questionnaire : Every participant was questioned in relation to the psychological dimensions of violence, 4 questions; modelling, 14 questions; smoking and alcohol consumption, 10 questions; sex related attitudes, 12 questions: and drugs, 6 questions.

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Impact of Watching International Television Programs on Adolescents in India: A Research Note [*]


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