Saudi children's viewing interests in the age of globalisation : a case study in Jeddah
This study examines the impact of new technologies (such as TV, video and videogames) on young Saudis' viewing interests. The study also contextualises the interplay among media, culture and identity, in a predominantly conservative country such as Saudi Arabia, which is regarded as the guardian of Islam. This is done through reflecting on the internal structure of Saudi Arabia in terms of the social, political, economic, cultural and media milieus. The study also engages, critically, with debates on the external factors of the globalisation processes, such as modernisation, dependency and development. Two methodologies are applied: firstly, a survey of 300 children, representing genders and social classes from the city of Jeddah, was carried out to explore the factors that influence the visual media materials' consumption of Saudi children, the sorts of gratifications obtained and the impact of media cultivation on the image children have of foreign, Arab and Saudi peoples. Secondly, interviews were conducted with top policy-makers in the media industry and socialisation agencies. This aimed to investigate the Saudi media for children, levels of activity, cultural imperialism and their impact on the Muslim Saudi child. The findings show that policy-makers have contrasting views regarding these issues. Also, their views are different and isolated from those of the children. The children in general display obvious disinterest in Saudi TV. They watch media materials mainly for entertainment and pleasure, which are of foreign and Arab origins. Socialisation backgrounds of genders and social classes are found to be significant in media viewing interests of children. Notably, females and elite class children show less interest in national media when compared to males and other classes. These findings have deep implications for the interplay of media, culture and identity in Saudi Arabia. Finally, some suggestions are offered for improving children's experiences with the media.