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Soap Operas and their effect in our society

Soap operas writers develop fictional characters that model positive or negative behaviors, and through their stories and struggles, audiences learn about issues ranging from domestic abuse to personal bankruptcy. These programs are watched many people including children specially in Latin America.

Photo of Rafael Carabano
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All afternoons, after school, most of the children arrive to their homes and what they usually do? In the majority of cases, they turn on the tv and start to watch programs, including soap operas without any suppervision. I remember doing this as a kid at home in Caracas, Venezuela. 
Children and teenagers spend a lot of hours in front of the television watching those programs that have a bad consequences in their behavior. The soap opera is a television genre made for entertainment, but in many cases it has a negative effect on society because people copy the behaviors that could be violent. Successful soaps tend to be smartly written, sexy and replete with plot twists and love triangles, including domestic violence against women generally speaking. In the best-case scenario, the show becomes popular, and viewers begin to incorporate some of the themes into their lives.
If societies, specially in Latin America countries, are influenced by these writers and their soap operas, there is no surprise that in many countries where these programs are popular, domestic violence cases are high, drugs, prostitution, among others, are common.

How can we protect our children from learning and replicating these behaviours in the future? where is the responsibility of TV networks, soap opera writers and society in general? 

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DeletedUser

This reminds me of the Bobo Doll experiment where children learned aggression through an adult acting aggressively. At the Stanford University Nursery School 36 boys and 36 girls, ages ranging from 3 to 6 years, were tested in an experiment to see whether or not a child would mimic their an adults action. In the study each child who did not witness an aggressive adult did not do aggressive things. On the other hand, children who witnessed an adult violently attacking a Bobo doll would also perform these violent actions when left alone (males being more aggressive than females). As to how we protect children from learning these things it really ends up being the adults job to censor the things that their children are watching. If that means to hide the television or blocking program from the child to make sure they don't watch these things then that's what needs to done. Another thing I would suggest is for parents to ask their kids about the programs they have watched throughout the day. By doing so parents can have an understanding of what their children are watching and can give feedback to the child saying that the actions done by these people or things in these programs are wrong and should never be copied.

Photo of Rafael Carabano

Shelby thanks for your comment. Very interesting the experiment they conducted at Stanford. Definitely there is a need to replace these "role models" we have in society now. After reading your comment a question just came to mind: if parents block these programs but still they don't promote a harmonic environment at home, still will have the same effect.
For me everything comes to education, coherence and values. Kids need to see these 3 together in order to understand what behaviors should be replicated.

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DeletedUser

You've made an excellent point! Without a harmonic environment within a family the effect of simply preventing a child from watching TV would falter. Children tend to act as their environment is presented because they do not know any better. The key here would be for parents to be firm despite their environment, which is much easier said than done, when they tell their children that they should not watch these programs. However, simply telling their kids not to watch something isn't necessarily going to prevent their children from watching a program. I am big on the topic of positive reinforcement, which basically means rewarding children when they do a good thing in order to promote that behavior. Yes, censoring what your kids watch is one thing, but thanking your kid for not conducting any of the behaviors shown on those programs may be a better solution.

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