Television is one of the mostinfluential platforms in the US and we tend to overlook the power that mediahas on us. Whether a person is learning from a real-life model or a fictionalmodel in the media they are learning from them in some way whether they arerepeating their words or actions. Even though some shows that may bebroadcasted on television may be educational not all shows are, and can lead tonegative behavior in their viewers. Many people have argued that showshave normalized violence and illegal activities. If shows make it seem normalto make or sell drugs, and people are exposed to the show they will also tendto think that it is normal.
Brian Brakier argues, “While Breaking Bad may not glorify meth in the sense of making itattractive to the average viewer, it does normalize the idea of meth for abroad segment of society that might otherwise have no knowledge of that darkand dangerous world (qtd. in Breaking). He is explaining that even thoughpeople may not find the use or production of methamphetamine attractive, theshow makes it seem like it is a normal thing to be a drug producer or dealer.This can be bad for viewers, especially those of a young age, because whenpeople start to believe that something that is negative is normal the do notreally pay attention to the negative effects of it. Some people may want toimitate what the character Walter White in BreakingBad is doing, because they see how much money he makes, but they do notreally pay attention to the struggles that he had to endure to make the money. Over the years violence has foundits way all over media, but the one area of the media world where it tends toreside the most is on the television. Whether it is on the news or on a showthat is being broadcasted it happens to be virtually almost everywhere whetherit is visible to the viewers or not. Haejung Paik and George Comstock profess,”The Surgeon General’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and SocialBehavior (1972) concluded, based on new studies conducted on its behalf, thataggressive and antisocial behavior of at least some young viewers was increasedby television violence” (Meta-Analysis 516).
When people of young age watchviolence on television it increases antisocial behavior. Whether people pick upon the behaviors or the words that are being said on the television they areincreasing anti-social behavior by repeating negative words or behavior. Forexample, the show Narcos was trendingon Netflix for a while and many people of young age have watched the show.
After watching the show many people were convinced that they could live abetter life if they were to be just like Pablo Escobar. A twitter user stated,”I’m at my limit with this school mostly because of math. Who wants to move toColumbia with me and move this Ye?” Although the person who tweeted thus mayhave not been serious about moving to Columbia to sell drugs the show allowedfor him to insinuate the scenario in his head because he knows that if he couldbe just like Pablo Escobar school would not matter because he would be rich.Observing the show and learning the negative behavior that is portrayed allowedthis person to assume that selling drugs will allow him to make money insteadof sitting in school dreading math class.
Unknowingly we portray examples ofanti-social behavior that we have learned through media. Every human learns throughobservational learning. When we see other people do or say something we tend torepeat their actions because they are a model in our lives. Although everyonelearns form observing others, but children usually learn the most from theirsurroundings.
Kendra Cherry states, “Observational learning describes theprocess of learning through watching others, retaining the information, andthen later replicating the behaviors that were overserved” (Observational).When a child watches television they may tend to repeat something that acharacter says just because they feel as though that they need to replicatewhat they have just learned. Although it is always good to learn new thingsreplicating what is being said or done on the television is not always a goodthing. For example, if there is a show that contains a high level of profanityit is not good that a child watches it because they may learn inappropriatewords or gestures and repeat them without even knowing what the words they aresaying really mean. Taylor Carney affirms, “When I was a child I would alwaysrepeat everything that I heard on the television not knowing whether it wasgood or bad.
I would always get in trouble by my parents and I was alwaysconfused because I thought I was just simply repeating words.” This goes toshow that even as young children we pick up things that we hear or see in oursurroundings and sometimes it may get us into trouble. Many studies have been done over theyears to prove that we learn from the things that we see through our own eyesin the media. Albert Bandura is a well-known psychologist who conducted theBobo Doll. Jeanette L. Nolen affirms that the experiment was used to show thatchildren imitate the behavior of their adult models (Bobo). Bandura dedicatedmany years of his career to this specific topic.
Bandura states, “It is evidentfrom informal observation that human behavior is transmitted, whetherdeliberately or inadvertently, largely through exposure to social models”(Psychological 1). Through his prior knowledge and observing Bandura couldalready confirm that humans learn through models whether we mean to learnsomething, or we learn something unknowingly. Bandura also affirms, “Althoughmuch social learning is fostered through observation of real-life models,advances in communication have increased reliance upon symbolic models”(Psychological 2). Most people nowadays are starting to look up to fictionalmodels rather than real-life models such as their parents which leads to morepeople learning form characters on their favorite TV show. With that being saidit is more likely that all people especially those of a younger age who may notbe familiar with what is being demonstrated on the television learn from whatwe see or hear on the television.
Hundredsof millions of American citizens are exposed to some sort of television programalmost every single day of their lives. People of all ages, especially childrenare prone to learning from the things that we watch on television but noteverything we watch is educational and full of rainbow and sunshine. A lot ofshows that may appear on television contain violence and/or some form ofillegal activities. The type of show that somebody watches can either have apositive or negative impact on ones thought process without them even realizingit at the moment. Some people claim that a show can not teach them anything,and that they make their own decisions when they are deciding what to do orsay.