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Role of the Electronic Media in Child’s Development

The Role of the Electronic Media in Child’s Development: A Case Study of Magic English and A Little Princess


This research work is an exploratory survey of the link between electronic media and child’s development. The electronic media (Television/film) is a powerful tool through which children can learn positively. But the medium is too often regarded as a source of mere entertainment for children by parents and guardians. The study used a content analysis method as a major approach to data collection and analysis using the film A Little Princess and the programme, Magic English as a case study. The study finds that film and television drama/programme educates the child, sharpens their minds and facilitates the overall development of the child. The study recommends that film and television programmes should be carefully produced and targeted at inculcating positive values, norms and attitudes. It facilitates the cognitive development of the child.


1.1       Introduction

Psychological development is concerned with the development of human being’s cognitive, emotional, intellectual, and social capabilities and functioning over the course of the life span, from infancy through old age.  Developmental change may occur as a result of genetically.  Controlled process known as maturation, or as a result of environmental factors and learning, but most commonly involves an interaction between the two.  It may also occur as a result of human nature and our ability to learn from our environment.  According to Darwin “Everything that man is or can be is attributed to the physical make up with which he is born or the conditions under which he lives (312)”.

Educations ensure the continuity and growth of a nation by ensuring that young people are prepared for their creative participation in its preservation and development.  Lester Smith states that:

Education not only changes the years, it is as sensitive to place and as it is to time.  It bears a different meaning in different countries, and it is never quite the same thing in rural surroundings as it is in a crowded industrialized area (8).

There are basically two types of education, namely, formal and informal education.  Formal education generally starts in school.  It involves the child going to school to acquire knowledge.  Here the child is given the opportunity to interact with the outside world.  Informal education starts at home.  At home, parents help in shaping their children, but they are by no means the only ones to shape their children’s behavior.  Children are also influenced through the media e.g. television, film, radio and magazines.  The Degree of children exposure to modern media makes it an important tool in the development of a child.  Both the content of what children encounter in the media and the form in which the information is presented are widely claimed to exert lasting effect on the development of children’s interests, cognitive skills and social behavior.  Jean Piaget states that:

As children grow and develop, they take in information and acquire knowledge at a rapid pace as they develop their cognitive abilities they assimilated new information and accommodate it to what they already know (54).

Over the years, the electronic media have had great influence on individuals both adults and children.  There are several television programmes, which influence the attitude of the child positively.  Van Evra Judith states that:

Children begin viewing several years before they begin reading and well before they can even talk.  Television viewing both shapes and stabilizes life styles and outlook (6)

Children television programme have also been criticized especially for its portrayal of violence.  For this reason, exposure to television violence encourages aggression in children.  The electronic media does not only feature violence, it also features children’s programmes that are educative, religious and entertaining.  Nevertheless these programmes help the child to develop intellectually, physically, mentally, morally, socially and emotionally.  Some of these programmes include Magic English, Barney and Friends, Super Book, Tales by Moonlight, Binta and Friends.  Hetherington states that:

Children television pattern are affected not only by programme content but by the formal features of television such as animation, high action, loud music and visual auditory, special effect. These formal features, which help to recruits as well as maintain children’s attention, are to some degree independent of programme content and they are important for younger and older children (572).

The television captures human mind, but it captures a child’s attention more than that of an adult.  By each passing day, child beings a new approach to his way of understanding and adapting to what he sees and hears around him.  As he grows, he undergoes various stages of development, during which he perceives the world in various ways.  At early stage most children appreciate stories about their environment and things that can fit well into their world of imagination.  If these stories are fantastic, it helps to stimulate their imaginations.  Therefore the electronic media have a strong aesthetic appeal which captures the attention of young children.

This study however, will focus on the role of the electronic media in the psychological development of the child.

1.2       Statement of the Problem

A major contributor to the electronic media influence on children is the amount of time they spend watching it.  Its potential for realism makes it difficult for some children to differentiate between reality and fiction.  Some of these children believe that what they see on the screen is what is obtained in the society.  Some children who watch movies and television programmes are given false belief and impression about the world.

Some parent do not care about the kind of programme their children watch on the television, most parents do not create special time to watch the television with their children in other to curtail the channels they watch, and also to explain to them the things that are beyond their imagination, thereby making their children to go astray.  Most media houses and programme producers do not know the actual time to broadcast children’s programme, and in most cases they do not select the appropriate programmes that are suitable for children.  Children’s prosocial behavior is very much influenced by what they see others do.  In recent time, media houses do not show reasonable cartoons and children’s programmes like tales by moonlight, Barney and Friends, family circle on air anymore, they concentrate more on political issues and other issues that are not connected to the child’s psychological development.  Children programmes help the child to develop socially, mentally, morally, intellectually, physically and emotionally.

Nowadays, most film producers do not differentiate between movies meant for adult from that of children.  Most films do not have the “G” sign on them, which signifies “General”, most Nigeria movies are labeled “18”.  The film censure board in most cases, do not scrutinize children’s movies strictly, thereby making them accumulate much violence that affects them negatively.

1.3       Aim of the Study

This study aims at finding the relevance and consequences of electronic media especially television and film, in child development and learning. Children are leaders of tomorrow, they are the future of this nation, and whatever they view contributes in shaping their future either positively or negatively.  This work will examine and investigate the potentials of Magic English a programme from Disney channel and A Little princess a film directed by Alfonso Cuaron, as a children programme.  The study is also aimed at encouraging the appropriate use of electronic media in presenting programmes that are didactic and morally based to reduce the rate of vice and other unhealthy tendencies in children.

1.4       Significance of the Study

This research work will go a long way to explain how the electronic media help in shaping, moulding and developing the child, physically mentally, socially and morally.  Electronic media aids to enhance the way a child behaves and associate with other people in the society.  The research work will also help the media practitioners to know how to select children’s programmes and avoid showing much of violence on screen.  This research work will also help parents to monitor their children’s television and film viewing; it will also help the children develop excellently without being negatively influenced by the media.

1.5       Scope of the Study

This study will focus on how the electronic media can be used to develop the growing child.  Magic English, a production from Disney channel, and A little princess a film Directed by Alfonso Cuaron will be used to achieve this effectively.  The chapter one will treat the introduction of the study, statement of the problem, aim of the study, significance of the study, research methodology and definition of terms.

Chapter two presents review of related literature on Television/film and child development, and Television drama and learning.  Chapter three will focus on the analysis of the case studies that is, the concept of Magic English, the descriptive analysis and interpretative analysis of selected episodes of magic English and synopsis of A little princess, The Role of A Little Princess in child’s development.  Chapter four will be the summary of findings, recommendations and conclusion.

1.6       Research Methodology

This research work will make use of primary and secondary sources of data.  The primary source will be the selected episodes of Magic English and therefore the research method is content analysis involving evaluation of the selected case studies.  The secondary source will come from published works, internet works and other relevant documented sources to help validate the study.

1.7       Definition of Terms

Electronic media:-

It stands for the television, movies/films and radio medium of mass communication.  In this work, its concentration is based on television and film.


It is process of passing instruction and knowledge from an expert (teacher) to the learners (students/pupils).


According to Ramberg, “Television is the medium of communication, primarily used for broadcasting visual impressions of reality through space, it is the most effective means of mass communication known to mankind”(420).  In the context of this study, television is an electronic means of mass media through which programmes and events are passed on to the audience, therefore it is a means of audio visual communication.

Child Development:-

According to Menya, “Child Development refers to the unfolding of behaviours from immature, simple to more complex and from dependent to independent” (1).  In the context of this study, it is seen as physically, spiritually, emotional and developmental from the day he or she was born till he dies.


It is the sequence of physical and psychological changes that human beings undergo as they grow older, beginning with conception and continuing through out life.  Development in this study is the growing of mentally, physically, socially, emotionally and morally, to become an advanced and matured being.


It is the science / study of the mind and its process.  It is a branch of human knowledge which touches upon many spheres of human behavior.

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