Ben10 or sponge bob? What are the different media outlets that are used by Iranian children? Do they use computers to do homework? What are some media consumption patterns for children in Iran? How does violence in media impact children? Our research paper studies the media available to Iranian children and parental strategies to supervise media consumption in Iran.
Available media in Iran
Similar to many other countries, TV is the main media outlet used by the Iranian population. However, Iran has a different media environment compared to many other countries. There are two types of TV programs available in Iran, one type under the strict supervision of government, hence, mostly promoting religious values, and the other type being TV programs broadcast by satellites based out of Iran. Although owning a satellite dish in Iran is illegal and can lead to fines and penalties by the Iranian government, still more than half of the population have access to satellite channels.
Parental concerns in Iran
Iranian parents are no different from their western counterparts in having concerns about sex and violence in media. Moreover, Iranian parents don’t want their children to get exposed to themes that are not consistent with the cultural norms in Iran. For example, in our research interviews parents mentioned that TV programs that show romantic relationships out of wedlock, or infidelity, are not appropriate for their children.
Violence in media also concerns parents in Iran. Similar to parents in the US they don’t consider cartoonish or fantasy violence as harmful. What distinguishes Iranian parents is that they don’t get worried that their children will imitate the violence in media, but they are mainly concerned that their children will get scared. This could be a result of consistent tension and war in the region that affects the mental wellbeing of civilians.
Although parents mentioned sexual content as one of their concerns they didn’t emphasize it as much as they are worried about cultural clashes and violence. This could be as a result of TV programs even from satellite channels that are more customized for Iranian taste and they do not portray explicit sexual content.
Parents in western countries are shown to use three different strategies to supervise and control their children’s media consumption. They either use
- active mediation (watching and discussing TV with children and use it as a teaching medium),
- restrictive mediation (having limits and rules for children to watch TV) and
- coviewing (watching TV with children but not necessarily having educational conversations). Interestingly, parents in Iran use one other mediation strategy on top of these three, which was not documented in the literature before. In this method,
- distraction mediation (parents try to distract children from exposure to media that they find harmful without directly restricting them). For example, one of the interviewees mentioned that her husband would ask their daughter to bring her a glass of water if an inappropriate scene comes up. In another instance, one of the parents mentioned that she keeps her son busy with playing soccer, so he becomes too tired to play video games.
Children’s media consumption
Our data suggest that irrespective of household income, parents try to offer different media gadgets for their children to keep them up to date with what they perceive as tools for success. The majority of the middle-class families seem to provide TV, tablets, laptop, mobile, and video games. Although children have access to these electronic gizmos they don’t use them much for educational purposes since most schools don’t incorporate them in the school curriculum. Contrary to children in the US, Iranian children are more likely to watch TV and play video games during week days rather than weekends because they spend more time with extended family over the weekend.
What factors impact media socialization?
Our paper titled Children’s Media Socialisation: Parental Concerns and Mediation in Iran, published in Journal of Marketing Management, studies the interrelationships between culture, available media, and local environment (social, religious, regulatory, and business) and how they influence media socialisation. Our interview data suggest that media that children use and strategies that parents employ to mediate this is influenced by the abovementioned factors.
Read the original research article: Kordrostami, M., Vijayalakshmi, A. & Laczniak, R.N. (2018). Children’s media socialisation: parental concerns and mediation in Iran. Journal of Marketing Management, 34(9-10), 819-840. https://doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2018.1515784
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