The death of Joy Guevarra after she and her friends played make-believe contestants of “Ano Ka Hilo?” on ABS-CBN 2’s “Magandang Tanghali Bayan,” focused national attention on the power of television upon the lives of men, women, and children. Concerned citizens were complaining that noontime shows, including “Sige, Ano Kaya Mo?” on GMA 7’s “Eat Bulaga,” were putting people’s lives in danger with the kind of contests they were promoting.
In an article published in the Philippine Journalism Review’s December 2002 issue, Luz Rimban, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism training director, said that “in a way, Joy Guevarra can be called a casualty of the networks wars” because “the game shows she imitated were just the latest battle in the battle for audience attention that the country’s top two television stations have been fighting for years.”
Television, Parents, and Children
In a study conducted by the Philippine Children’s Television Foundation (PCTF), Feny delos Angeles-Bautista, PCTF executive director, explained that 1 400 children from different cities and provinces were asked what their favorite television programs were and what television programs they watched regularly. Survey shows that the top 25 programs included adult programs, sitcoms and action series, and sports programs, basketball and wrestling.
In a similar study conducted by the National Statistics Office under the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines, the National Capital Region garnered the highest of television exposure, 91.3 percent, as compared to other forms of mass media.
Studies also show that next to parents and family, television is the most influential factor in shaping children’s views and values. Television is the most popular source of information and entertainment among Filipino children. Compared with American and European children, Filipino children are allowed to watch adult television programs unsupervised. As a result, they have a media diet heavy with violence and vulgarity.
This is consistent with one of the important conclusions of the UNESCO Global Study on Media. There is less to worry about in the case of children who live and grow in secure and stable homes, who can count on parents or guardians to regulate their mediated experiences, or who benefit from school and faculty support with some attention and emphasis on media literacy training. But, this is not the case of many Filipino children. One in six suffers from neglect while one in three drops out before grade six. Barely two-thirds of 12-21 years old live with both parents. 409 849 children of 5-7 years old live away from home.
“Parental guidance is very important. Children need to learn to explore the best possibilities that media can offer while protecting themselves from negative effects of watching television programs, simply by learning to be discriminating media consumers who can understand all forms of mass media,” Delos Angeles-Bautista said
Television, Practitioners, and Children
The death of Joy Guevarra is not only because of the negligence of her parents. Aside from the importance of parental guidance and the importance of media literacy training, mass media producers and practitioners are responsible in helping children became not only discriminating media consumers, but also ones who could maximize mass media products as they grow to their own advantage.