Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Social Learning Theory

The Social Learning Theory focuses on the impact that the media has in influencing attitudes, values and behaviors on the viewers. This explains why we suddenly see social or behavioral trends especially among teenagers, as we will see in our examples.
The Social Learning Theory centers on the audience and how they learn, attitudes, values and behaviors from the media. Viewers sometimes find role models on TV or in magazines and they emulate their behavior or perhaps their attitudes to be more like them. This is not a far-fetched idea, after all the media is a learning tool, proven by Sesame street or by cooking shows where it is evident that we can imitate what we see to get a desired result, either to learn to spell or bake a great cake.
We can find examples of Social learning when we especially look to the younger population. As an audience they tend to spend a lot more time in the media and as they are developing their character and maturing, they are disposed to rely on role models, fictional characters, singers etc… to shape their ideal selves. Take this example from The Times:

The article mentions that teenage girls, none older than 16 were having a pregnancy pact in a Massachusetts High school. It is unclear on whether they were actually inspired by films like Juno a comedic drama that centers on a witty high school teen that gets pregnant, however the article thus mention that news of the pact was made public around the same time that the 17 year old star from a Nickelodeon show Zoey 101 gave birth to her child. No comment is provided from any of the girls involved however there seems to be evidence that this could be influence from the recent media coverage of teenage pregnancy.

We also have this video from youtube that shows, possibly twelve year old kids making a prank on one of their friends, and if we look closely we can see that they are imitating stunts from the MTV program Jackass. We can see the kids emulating a famous stunt by Bam Margera, one of the stars of the show, and what he used to do was slap-attack his dad while he was busy at home and record it. See the video for yourself.


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