PRO-SOCIAL MEDIA EFFECTS
Exposure to pro-social media
Despite the moral panic over the anti-social content of popular television programmes, there is clear evidence of a comparable level of pro-social content as well.
Greenberg (1980) analysed popular children’s TV programmes in the US and found an equivalent number of pro-social and anti-social acts in any one hour period.
Acquisition of pro-social behaviours & norms
Children learn appropriate behaviours by observing the behaviour of models.
Children are more likely to imitate the behaviour of models if they anticipate positive consequences for that behaviour.
This is known as ‘vicarious learning’.
Unlike the depiction of anti-social acts on television, pro-social acts are more likely to represent established social norms.
Such pro-social acts, such as generosity or helping others are likely to reinforce our social norms rather than contrast with them.
As a result, we might expect that exposure to pro-social content on television will be at least as influential as exposure to anti-social content.
As children grow, there are important cognitive changes that result in more complex reasoning and behaviour.
Research suggests that many of the skills that are synonymous with pro-social behaviour (e.g. perspective taking, empathy, moral reasoning) develop throughout childhood and into adolescence (Eisenberg, 1990).
Mares (1996) concludes that younger children may be less affected by pro-social portrayals than older children, particularly if those portrayals are more complex than simple modelling of a specific behaviour.
For many children…