No matter where a person turns nowadays, he would find himself surrounded with all forms of media. May it be newspaper, flyer, television commercials or even digital media; the presence of media is undeniable. Media had become the means for information transfer, sharing and even the voice of the people in times of conflict and controversy. However, despite the benefits the media showcases for various age groups and sectors, there are some dangers in utilizing the media in terms of information sharing and other similar prospects. While there are chances that people would disregard the negative effects of utilizing and understand information from the media, the negative effects foster in the mindset of the public without them knowing. In the case of the teenage generation, the media influences their mindset to exemplify questionable media content, practice unhealthy and competitive lifestyle, believe in stereotypes and finally, influence their capacity to decide what is beneficial for use or practice.
The greatest concern many have emphasized regarding media’s influence and effect to teenagers is how teenagers understand media content, especially in terms of their importance and severity. Several studies have already showcased that most media content nowadays showcase heavy content on violence, sexual topics and vices that would cause teenagers to imitate the scenes and question what they know about these topics. Overexposure to these questionable media often record chances of aggressive behavior towards others, and they consider violence to be an essential requirement in surviving life. Teenagers exposed to violent media content, mostly through video games and television, would find the world a scary place and some would even develop tendencies on loving violence, which they may imitate in real life. In the case of sexual media content, many concerned parents and groups stated that the healthy portrayal of sexual activity entices teenagers to commit the act themselves. In these cases, there are higher records of casual sexual activity in teenagers that often lead to pregnancy and STD as they are unaware of safe sex and the consequences of early pregnancy. There are also high cases of alcohol, tobacco and drug use in teenagers across the United States which had been influenced by the media considering that most media content now shows characters drinking or smoking to look cool. Eventually, this leads teenagers to emulate what they see on these shows and become enticed to try them out .
In addition to instilling aggression and other violent tendencies, the media is also capable of hindering academic development. Studies have noted that media mediums, may it be television or the internet, takes away the time that should be allotted to other activities. It is most often that teenagers would expose themselves to media whenever they feel lazy or they wish to do something else than intellectually challenging activities, which may include school work and reviews. While media is indeed more fun than studying or reviewing, teenagers still prefer media over books as books are boring and they tend to be difficult. Since media often diverts the attention of the teenager from his studies, cognitive growth is thwarted and their academic achievement also suffers exponentially. In addition to removing the attention of teenagers to school work, the media also displaces other activities that would promote academic achievement such as playing outdoors, going out for walks or visiting the mall. Some studies have also pointed out that media use of teenagers, and even by other groups, tend to develop mental laziness. The media is capable of transferring information to the brain without the need to stimulate the mind to process the information given. Over time, teenagers would be most adept to passing thinking and would no longer exert effort to perform cognitive activities. Eventually, one would see if the teenager is overexposed to media when he or she fails to perform for a cognitive activity, such as reading, and may even try to avoid doing the activity .
Aside from influencing academic development and mental capacities, the media also influences teenagers on their physical development and outlook towards food. Nowadays, commercials and media content promote fast foods with low nutritional value, such as candy, chips, and high-fat snacks. Despite the availability of healthy foods in the market, commercials tend to exemplify the fun factors of their food products than its nutritional content and benefit. Studies have indicated that most teenagers have watched almost 89% worth of food-related media that gives emphasis to cost, taste, and availability. With the conception in the minds of teenagers by various media content, teenagers would often show preference to unhealthy food and poor eating habits. Some tend to skip eating nutritional foods all together and eat more fast and processed food. In the long run, teenagers tend to become overweight due to their food preference and most often than not, develop complications such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and even heart complications. The media is also capable of grabbing the attention of teenagers, often seeing these teens for countless hours watching television, playing video games or surfing the net without exerting physical activity .
The media also influences children in their decision making, mostly on the things they wish to purchase and their perception on a perfect lifestyle through the use of products they see on television or in other media platforms. Media, in the form of advertisements and television shows, often showcase a perfect lifestyle that could be considered fabricated or a fantasy. This then gives the perception to teenagers that using the product or imitating the scenes in the media would help them improve their self-confidence and how people see them. The teenage market is often noted by companies and investors as a perfect market due to the direct spending power they play in purchasing items for the home. With the media utilizing advertising strategies that entices teenagers to try products, such as using celebrities and catchy lines, teens easily go for the products that have more convincing qualities. However, the negative side of this is the fact that they tend to act differently than their ages, seeing that the products or shows they see on the media reflect teens that are mature and have life-stories that are similar to fairy-tales. Some studies have even noted that overexposure to media, especially in advertisements, show that teenagers would try to embody whatever they see on television since they believe it’s the “cool” trend for their generation. There are also cases that teenagers fall in a state of depression if they fail to purchase the item or emulate the celebrity they wish to be, causing violent tantrum episodes until they get what they desire. A few cases also record that teenagers would lose their capacity to think freely and have a more fantasy-like perception of reality. Teenagers also tend to lean on to media to match their peers, even if the item or habit they are trying to emulate is detrimental to their health .
Finally, the media often portrays to teenagers the ideas on stereotypes that cause them to act negatively to issues that are portrayed negative in media. Since teenagers tend to watch or believe in media platforms to get their information, they tend to develop stereotypes in terms of gender, race, profession, and even one’s physical incapacities. Some teenagers tend to humiliate or consider people from other groups to be beneath their group. For example, African Americans are considered as people from gangs and criminal syndicates, while White Americans are considered the heroes and the high-achievers. Another notable example of negative stereotype is the idea on women and men equality. Body size, and lifestyles are also exemplified by media platforms to show what is socially acceptable to the public. Women tend to try out several weight loss methods and beauty produces due to the influence of media. Men who often grab the attention of women tend to be muscular and buff whenever it is viewed in the media. Teenagers most often use the media as their basis for their ideal partner, and what they should look like. For teenagers to achieve these ideal bodies, they tend to overexert their bodies to strict dieting regimens and exercise which may cause health complications such as anorexia and depression .
It is notable that the media is an essential aspect of a person’s life in the 21st century as it is the source for knowledge, entertainment and information regarding various issues and aspects of life. It also opens up people to the realities of life in various parts of the globe and at the same time, opens channels for communication and information sharing wherever a person is located around the globe. However, like all great things there is a negative side-effect on utilizing or understanding media content especially if the group concerned is the teenagers. Like their younger counterparts, teenagers are vulnerable to media influence in terms of what information to believe, what lifestyle to pursue, and even how they would act on life. It is important that teenagers are guided accordingly by parents, educators and by peers in how to see media in both its positive and negative light. Without guidance, overexposure to media would lead teenagers to develop violent tendencies, and may lead unrealistic lives they see on media that may affect them in the future.
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