Media research normally looks at the relationship between media violence and aggression. The possible prosocial influences of the media are often overlooked. Most research in this area has studied media influences on altruism (helping someone else at some cost to the helper), as well as the development of empathy and the reversal of gender and cultural stereotyping. The effect of prosocial media is not as widely studied as antisocial media, largely because it does not engender moral panics as violent media do.
Media influence on prosocial behaviour-
1) Exposure to prosocial behaviour- There is clear evidence of a comparable level of prosocial content to antisocial. Greenberg (1980) analysed popular children’s programmes in the US and found an equivalent number of prosocial and antisocial acts in any hour.
2) Acquisition of prosocial behaviours and norms- The major claim of social learning theory (Bandura 1962) is that we learn by observation how to do things and when it is acceptable to do them. We may then imitate those behaviours, and the consequence of our behaviour will determine the likelihood of us repeating the behaviours. Unlike the depiction of antisocial acts on television, prosocial acts are more likely to reinforce our social norms rather than contrast with them. This also means that we are more likely to be rewarded for imitating prosocial acts than for antisocial acts.
3) Developmental factors- Research suggests that many skills that are synonymous with prosocial behaviour (e.g perspective-taking, empathy, moral reasoning) develop throughout childhood and into adolescence. Consequently we might expect strong developmental differences in the defree to which children of different ages are influenced by the prosocial content they view on television or in other media. This means that younger children may be less affected by prosocial portrayals in the media than older children.
4)Parental mediation- Austin (1993) argued that effective mediation involves the parent discussing the programme with the child, explaining any ambiguous or disturbing material and following up the concepts presented in the programme. Parental mediation has been shown to enhance the learning effect. Rosenkoetter (1999) suggested that with parental mediation, children as young as seven…