AN EVALUATION OF MASS MEDIA INFLUENCES ON LIFESTYLE OF YOUTHS
1.1 Background to the Study
The past two decades have witnessed a growing interest among researchers in exploring the linkages between the media and the attitudes and behaviours of young people. In the context of the increasing incidence of HIV/AIDS, research on the sexuality and sexual behaviour of young people has highlighted the media as a significant source of information on reproductive and sexual health matters, and an important influence in young people’s lives, particularly with respect to their interaction with the opposite sex (Vasan, Dinesh and Prashanth, 2004; Sodhi, Verma and Schensul, 2004; Belaku Trust, 2004). Study have showed that substantial proportions of youth are exposed to the media; that for many youth, the media constitutes a leading source of information (IIPS and Population Council, 2010).
The mass media explosion that began in the 1950s has dramatically changed the environment in which young people are raised. Electronic media provide the young ones with a variety of new learning opportunities and broaden the range of events the young people experience. Young people are nowadays easily influenced by their environment. Whether it is television, friends, family members, or just plain strangers, everyone and everything has an impact on teenagers (Anderson, Gentile, Warburton, Saleem, Groves, and Brown, 2015).
Mass media refers to those media that are designed to be consumed by large audiences through the agencies of technology. These technologies include the Internet, television, newspapers, film and radio, which are used for mass communication. Mass media also include the organizations which control these technologies.
According to Opubor in Fred and Godwin (2008, p.14), “the mass media are social institutions generating standardized messages to a large, dispersed and heterogeneous audience which are not necessarily known to the source”. Ekeanyanwu, in Fred and Godwin (2008, p.145) refers to the mass media as various channels of mass communication to include books, newsletters, internet journals etc.
Macbride et al, as quoted by Nwanne (2012, p.62) describe what the mass media do in these words….. the advent of mass media and their presence in our daily life has been one of the major features of our contemporary world”. Following the same approach, Imhonopi and Urim (2004, p.22) explain the role of the mass media. According to them “…. the mass media in any society play a major role in the promotion and sustenance of the norms and values of that society”.
One of the functions of the mass media as identified by Laswell (1948) in Sambe (1994) is preservation of cultural heritage from one generation to another. Based on that role, the mass media can be described as a preservative institution for all aspects of culture, whether material or non-material.
There are reasons to expect that environmental context affects television watching of children independent of other individual demographic characteristics. Rural localities, for example, do not offer as great an array of cultural and leisure time activities for children as larger towns and suburbs (Schneller, 1988). Thus, the relative absence of alternative leisure activities in rural areas is likely to lead rural students to devote more time to television watching than their larger town and suburban counterparts. By the same token, other environmental factors, such as differences in subculture norms, also can dramatically influence the pattern of television viewing.
The mass media influence on people’s lives is deeper with diverse consequences. The full-range of unfiltered information is now available to most of us by using a parabola and satellite transmission. One can buy many kinds of video freely; access them easily at a low cost and everywhere. With the internet one can have access to numerous and multiple sources of information. Ralph, E. Hanson (1995:24) Quoting Joshua, argued that the existing development of mass media can lead to radical change in the society. The mass media which have been described as the mirror of the world have influenced our culture in numerable ways. One of its effects is that it has encouraged violence among youth in our society. In New York Times 1995, Alison and Jarice wrote that television is one of the primary causes of teenage violence than it can be blame on any other cause. Some people believe that the mass media are efficient in influencing the lifestyle of youths, while others argue otherwise.
Merton and Lazerfield wrote that the media are everywhere; they might be able to control and manipulate people’s lives. Neil Postman (1985) argues that television promotes triviality by speaking one voice, the voice of entertainment. He further argued that television as a mass medium is transforming our culture, Alison and Jarice (1992:2)
This study is therefore set to evaluate the influence of the mass media on the lifestyle of youths, using Warri in Delta State as the focus of the study.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The assumption that the mass media play a significant role in the lifestyle of youths is a matter for investigation in order to determine its validity. The problem therefore, is to evaluate the influence of mass media on the lifestyle of youths in Warri.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are as follows;
To ascertain whether youths have access to the mass media
To evaluate the influence of the mass media on the lifestyle of youths in Warri Delta State.
To find out the impact of the mass media on the educational standard of youths in Warri.
To ascertain whether there’s a relationship between mass media and increase in social vices in the lifestyle of youths.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This study will be guided by the following research questions
Do youths in Warri have access to the mass media?
Does the mass media have any influence in the lifestyle of youths in Warri Delta?
What is the impact of the mass media on the educational standard of youths in warri.?
Is there any relationship between mass media and increase in social vices in the lifestyle of youths?
1.5 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study would be directed at the general public of Warri metropolis, who can be classified as a consumer of any advertised product on television.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is aimed to be helpful in the following ways
It is expected to help the government, religious leaders, educationist and also policy maker to know the extent at which the mass media can bring about drastic change in the lifestyle of urban youths and how the media can serve as a tool for cultural importation.
The conduct of this research will enable the government to know what role the media can play in the development of a country and therefore, harness the mass media especially TV in the democratic process and development process in general.
The study will help to educate the general public of the inter-relationship between media programme contents and urban youth violent behavior.
The findings of this research will enable the government to know what role the media can play in the development of a country and therefore, harness the mass media especially TV in the democratic process and development process in general.
Again, the study will equally help to uphold awareness and knowledge to youths and students who will become future cybercafé, radio and television owner to know the type of programme that they should broadcast.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Mass media: These are channel for moving messages across distance or time to accomplish mass communication (Defleur and Mcquail, 1989).
Youths: the period of your life when you are young, or the state of being young 18 – 31 years
Television: A system for converting visual images (with sound) into electrical signals, transmitting them by radio or other means, and displaying them electronically on a screen. It is a device shaped like a box with a screen which receives electrical signals and changes them into moving images and sound, or the method or business of sending images and sound by electrical signals.
Lifestyle: A lifestyle typically reflects an individual's attitudes, way of life, values, or world view. Therefore, a lifestyle is a means of forging a sense of self and to create cultural symbols that resonate with personal identity.
Influence: the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
According to Picard (2001: 66), the primary reason for the absence of research in this area (media influence on life style of youths) is the lack of adequate data.
This study was again limited by insufficient material gathered in relation to this topic, insufficient time to properly prosecute this topic - the researcher has to share his time to do other academic activities while carrying out this research, and finally finance was not readily available to do all the necessary things as it pertain to this research work.