The impact of Latin-American telenovelas on the social life of Kenyan teenage girls: a case of Athi-River mixed day secondary school
As the growth of new media and the advantages of the liberalization of airwaves keep being felt in Kenya, it is important for researchers to look at what Kenyan teenage girls may be learning from television programming and more so, from the Latin American telenovelas which have had a dominant presence during prime time in most of Kenyan networks since the early 1990s. The study aimed to establish the impact of telenovelas on the social life of teenage girls in Kenya by analyzing girls in Athi -River Mixed Day Secondary School. The study embraced a case study design and used both questionnaires and interview schedule for data collection. Social learning theory, User Gratification Theory, and cultivation theory provided the foundations to study the possibility that our teenage girls may through observational learning end up imitating the behavior of characters after long exposure to telenovelas. The study established that 97% of girls watch telenovelas and 3% of the girls do not watch. The study also established that 69.8 % were watching “wild at Heart” at the time of the study while others were watching „Her mother‟s daughter‟, „Maria Clara‟ and „My eternal‟. This showed that „Wild at heart‟ was the most commonly watched soap opera among the teenage girls in AthiRiver Mixed Secondary Day School. On the frequency of watching the telenovelas, 62% of teenage girls watched the telenovelas very often, while 25% watched the programmes oftenly. The study also established that the telenovelas were mostly watched at 8pm in the evening as attested by 42.9% of the respondents while the rest at 10 a.m. in the morning as indicated by 22% of the respondents and at 6pm as shown by 23% of the respondents. On the factors influencing the teenage girls to watch the telenovelas, the study established motivation, need for entertained, need to get educated and escape from reality. The other findings was that teenage girls used telenovelas in various ways such as teaching them on how to live with others as attested by 27% of the respondents, improving self-esteem 24%, widening the scope of thinking 17%, helping them to improve on speaking good English 15%, good decision making 7%, help them to understand the meaning of true love 6% and to improve their academic performance rated at 5%. On the social life of the teenage girls, the study established that the telenovelas influenced the social lives of the girls as attested by 97% of the respondents who said that telenovelas mostly influenced their social life as opposed to 3% of the girls who said that the telenovelas affected their religious lives. The study recommended that; Parents should control the programmes watched by their children to guide them watch programmes which can be educative to them and they should also regulate the time when the youth watch the programmes. The other recommendation was that parents should act as role models by not watching programmes that may promote immorality.