Monday, November 12, 2007

Kenya media changes in the years and its effect on the modern child

In my childhood days there was only one TV and Radio station VOK (Voice of Kenya), which is now KBC (Kenya Broadcasting Corparation). Television would start at 4pm, the order of programs was children programs, then a talk show Mambo Leo (current affairs) a talk show on Kenya current affairs, to me it was the most boring program, after that the 7pm news which was to me another boring affair unless there was some unique news like I remember the death of the first President of Kenya the Late Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, I was small but can remember watching this on the old type black and white big television. The other beautiful event that I can remember is the Royal wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana; I still believe it was one of the best weddings in the world.

Other interesting programs were documentaries, cooking program like Mke Nyumbani, comedies like Mind your Language (was serialized again recently) and a number of Swahili dramas like Fedheha, Kielelezo, later Tushauriane, etc… On radio we would mainly listened to music, radio drama and can say the music of those days was quality music compared to most of what we have now. Thanks to Classic FM for bringing back those memories. Compared to current media, VOK did not have stuff that would worry parents with kids. I remember a Swahili program Usiniharakishe had to be stopped because of airing a bedroom scene of a woman and man in suggestive dialogue. Come to think of it now, that is nothing compared to what we watch today, the programs aired now have worse scenes. Those programs that were meant for adults were aired after 9pm news a time when most kids were already in bed. That is why we spent most of the day playing out door games. Kids of today and yesterday.

Today the newspapers, the radio stations, TV stations and other publications are so many, they try to compete with each other by publishing or airing all kinds of stuff to attract viewers, readers and advertisers. The advantage of having a variety is one can choose what to read or what to watch compared to the only station we had. It is a great relief especially in a democratic world when one doesn’t want to watch a state funded TV Station like KBC who can be biased. The other advantage is there is a lot to learn from the variety of news sources. The modern technology has also brought color so we can now get a clearer picture of what we are reading and watching.

However there is always a bad side of everything. Compared to the old media, the current media does not think of the impact of what they publish or air on younger readers or viewers. Unlike kids of old days, who never bothered much about newspapers and Television. Today’s kids spend most of their time in doors, watching and reading anything they could find. In the process they learn everything good and bad. Unfortunately the media mainly target adults as their main customers, they forget that the modern child is well informed compared to the kids of the old days. As a result kids digest all kinds of information from what they watch and read.

This makes it really difficult to control kids behavior in the modern day compared to the kids of our time. Kids also want to know what is in the adverts, for example condom adverts, as a parent am embarrassed to explain to my small child what that condom being put on an leaking plastic bottle is for or when he suggest that I buy it for him thinking its a toy. When I refuse to answer his queries, he/she decides to ask a classmate or relative and end up getting answers in a crude manner. It is even funny when a small child thinks it a balloon and suggests to the parents to buy it during a festive season, to avoid this we may end up explaining some embarrassing things to small kids. Am glad this advert was stopped from being aired on TV, it was very embarrassing.

This is only one example, now there are many programs like those I had talked about above, which in our childhood days were only aired after 9pm news. Though they advise the age of recommended viewers and warn about abusive language and suggestive dialogue, they come as early as 7.30pm when most kids are not ready to go to bed. So one ends up switching from one channel to the other or alternatively switch off completely and listen to the radio, which at least would not have an embarrassing scene to watch. As a parent I cannot complain to the media because it is a competitive world, which has got to do with demand and supply.

This just shows how issues related to sex really sell in our modern society, it has also caught up with most industries, adverts and even our musicians, they produce videos copying the west and don’t care about morals or African culture, just to sell more. The type of music on most of our TV music programs and also in our public mini buses (Matatus), is so embarrassing to many especially the elderly and parents with kids.

That’s life in our modern society, at this rate I can only imagine the situation getting worse.


sayra said...

Hi Sue,
I also at times wonder what kind of explanations i will be giving to my kids (when that time comes)when they ask me what a condom is for after an advert on TV coz for sure things will get worse. But i think we should try and get ways to makes kids busy during the day such that they dont have to be in the house all the time watching TV. And i mean busy doing interesting things not homework or reading for exams.
This also begs for a need for parents to have many bonding sessions with their kids. This will avoid children having crude answers and explanations for innocent questions, and they will at least do the right thing when they are faced with a situation.

Sue said...

Hi Sayra,

Thanks for visiting my blog and the advise you've given. Its not easy to bring up kids in the modern world, we only try what we can and hope they listen to our advise and take them seriously. I think the best thing is to teach them what is good and what is bad and the dire consequences if they get involved in the wrong things.