The television made me do it

48 years ago Comments Off on The television made me do it

Radio/Television professor Tony DeMars published a book addressing the influence that television has on society.The book, “Modeling Behavior from Images of Reality in Television Narratives,” also explores how television programming has changed and what this change means.”The main intent of the book is to challenge other researchers to think of their research approach and to begin a dialogue from theirs about how we should be trying to measure the impact of television on our society,” DeMars said.His research began as a part of his dissertation while he completed his doctorate degree five years ago at the University of Southern Mississippi.In writing the book, DeMars established his own ideas about how television affected its audience. He then went on to compare his ideas to other existing research.”To me, too many people in the United States doing this type of research were trying to measure specific effects,” DeMars said. “I began with a concern that children in our society were being ‘taught’ by some television content to think, feel and behave differently than they had been taught before.”DeMars studied three categories of television programming–sitcoms, youth-appeal programs and TV talk shows. Based on his original focus, he selected shows that depicted aggressive attitudes or behavior of children toward adults and how the programs rewarded or punished that behavior. Among those shows studied were “Home Improvement,” “The Simpsons” and “Jenny Jones.””I think for a society to be productive, each member should give more than he or she takes,” DeMars said. “Television does present meanings and if those meanings help people to believe otherwise, perhaps that will lead to challenges to our social structure that may be damaging.”DeMars said he believes competition among the broadcast TV networks combined with the emergence of new cable TV networks have contributed to the change in television content.”Who has power over content is always a factor in what airs, and in our society economic power plays a big role,” he said.Looking toward the future, DeMars said he believes because individuals have different experiences with content on a daily basis, it will affect their interactions with other individuals.”At some point, it seems those in control of TV content should maintain some ethical limit and see any mass media content as influential to how each of us see the world and our role in it–if we are concerned about and want to maintain social harmony.”DeMars plans to discuss his study when he presents a paper at the American Sociological Association conference this summer in California.