Children are the heritage of the Lord Almighty. Children of all nations are the future, Nigerian child is Nigeria’s future. The child in this context is characterized by the nationality, Nigeria, it therefore, rules out all forms of discrimination; tribe, language, sex, age, financial statue, caste, ethnicity, and so on. Nigeria is the giant of Africa, blessed with many resources, the Nigerian child being the greatest of all, how much has Nigeria invested in them to expect their very best in future is a question that its actual answer should be decried by every lover of the nation. Besides, it could be recalled that soon after Sony of Japan made the first home video in 1975 the new technology found its way into Nigeria. It is hardly surprising, since Nigerians are known to be great users of mass communication technology, owning and consuming more media messages than all of black Africa combined. It is on record that the country’s 88.5 million populations are served by about 300 regular publications, 89 per cent own radios and 12.4 million homes own television sets. And the new culture of video watching in the lives of a Nigerian child (those below 16 years) which assumed positions of importance in our country are home video, computers, facsimile and satellite dish. But it is assumed that the one most accessible to Nigerian children as yet is home video, hence the present interest in it. Consequentially, today, less than two decades after its invention, home video has become a regular feature of middle class homes of the urban areas in Nigeria.
CLARIFICATION OF THE TERM “HOME VIDEO”
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Home video is a blanket term used for pre-recorded media that is either sold or hired for home entertainment. The term originates from the VHS/Betamax era but has carried over into current optical disc formats like DVD and Blu-ray Disc and, to a lesser extent, into methods of digital distribution such as Netflix”. Laying credence to the above definition, it became apparent that the above concept in this context includes all forms of graphic display programs irrespective of the source, provided they are meant for home entertainment. The home video business distributes films, telemovies and television series in the form of videos in various formats to the public. These are bought or rented, then watched privately from the comfort of home by consumers. Most theatrically released films are now released on digital media, both optical (DVD and Blu-ray) and download-based, replacing the largely obsolete VHS (Video Home System) medium. In other words, DVDs are gradually gaining popularity even though VCD has not gone into extinction.
Nevertheless, it is believed that the ownership of the home video enables the user to dictate and select the entertainment material he wants and the time of exposure, which is not usual with normal television watching. At the same time, the viewer enjoys a privacy which is absent in the case of public TV or cinema. Other advantages of video include the ability to play back programs and the ability to replay action in slow motion. Due to these obvious characteristics, indications therefore emerge that the video has become rival of local TV. The home video has become a substitute for television. In fact, its trade has become big business in Nigeria. Rather than establish an independent programme outfit, it seems more lucrative to create a video duplicating service. In such a situation of high demand, the leniency of copyright enforcement agency is more pronounced especially in the urban areas where commercial video dubbing centers are all over the place. For a little fee of N30 any film on video can be dubbed for a patron. Already dubbed tapes are readily available for between N60 to N80 depending on the quality of the tape. Also video rental services are available at almost every street corner. Some centers provide such services to registered members only mostly youths and adults who rent them for their wards.
THE CONSEQUENTIAL EFFECTS OF HOME VIDEOS TO THE NIGERIAN CHILD
With reference to the above clarification which stressed the unavoidable advantages of the home videos over the public TV, many non-working class especially children and the youth, have embraced video as a favourite source of entertainment and passing time. Generally speaking, home video is an indispensable source of enlightenments and character formation for the growing child as it creates a sense of exposure in them especially if they are properly guided. But unfortunately, the children and that of Nigerians in particular seem to be taking undue advantage of the above mentioned characteristics of home video and have become addicted to the new technology. It is even worse that in the absence of adults to guide viewers, the children become their own counselors, interpreting and misinterpreting the contents as they deem fit. A critical look at the content of most Nigerian movie will disclose that the child is harmed at each exposure. The issues are that most of their themes centers on love, killings, rituals, witchcraft, and other vices. It is not that they are wrong in playing up those themes but there is always a tendency to overplay it without resolving the inherent conflicts in the movie. This will make children to assume that those bad scenes are ideal in society.
Far more importantly, it is observed that some of the favourite video films in vogue show that they are foreign, mostly American, with little to offer for the proper development of the Nigerian child. In view of the accompanied socio-cultural implications of such a foreign display, it therefore become very necessary to condemn the incongruity of these ugly phenomena that is against the preservation of Nigerian culture and the consequential future of Her child. No source has been able to counter the fact that the video reality internalized by the Nigerian audience may be unrelated to the Nigerian reality. Serious problems may now arise if the Nigerian child is made to see reality from the American point of view. This may result in the creation of what may be termed a “double pseudo-reality”, leading to inimical consequences in the national development. More still, most of the black men in the movies are indeed caricatures of characters that repudiate Africaness and blackness and try to imitate the white man in speech, appearance and behaviour. None of the films attempt to neither recreate any aspect of the African folklore nor emphasize any typically African values. It is even worse that success in the films is defined largely as accidental and irrational and there is excessive normlessness about the proper way to succeed in life. Most of the heroes and heroines indeed short-circuit the process of success, thereby making a mockery of honest labour. Even the alleged spiritual display of the nature of healing miracles has made the growing child to loose sense of fundamental theology about the Jesus of reality thereby developing what Rev. Dr. Eze called home video spirituality in his homily (Palm Sunday, April 2011).
More still, experts say that no one is born with violence in his or her system. Rather, we learn violence from our experiences, either as a victim or as an onlooker, reader or watcher. Likewise, one research carried out by a Mexican newspaper, El Universal, reports that cartoon violence influence the behaviour of children more than what they learn in school. The research also shows that television/video contribute in determining which attitude children adopt in a particular situation even when the child is aware of the negative or positive consequences of such behaviour. The report explained that, if the child watches cartoons or films where one of the characters is tied up with satisfactory results the child will probably want to imitate this practice. The investigation indicates that kids apply in their daily life what they learn every day from movies but not what they learn at school, since they consider school as just an obligation.
Conclusively, the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), says films and home videos have the ability to impact negatively on the socialization process of Nigerians if not adequately censored. While acknowledging that films and video production have to some extent reduced the quest for foreign films by Nigerians and Africans in the diaspora, the NFVCB agreed that home videos can be used as a useful medium for national development both socially, culturally and politically.
If as parent and teachers we control, from the outset, what our very young children read, watch, play with, and the friends they move with, we would be able to nip in the bud any inclination on their part to imbibe or embrace violence. Violent kids grow into violent adults, unless there is divine intervention somewhere along the way.