The Role of Stereotypes, as Portrayed in the Mass Media and the Impact on Youth Behavior
The society plays a significant role in shaping and building attitudes and behaviors of individuals who form part of it. Individuals are bombarded with information and ideas from all corners of the universe that influence their way of thinking, and also play a domineering role in shaping attitudes, and beliefs. In the past, these influences came from sources such as family, community, and schools. On the contrary, today, the aforementioned institutional influence has declined as the society transforms into a more advanced technological and information age. The development of mass media in the society has caused an imperative change in individuals' lifestyle, especially with the enormous use of television, and the internet. In the modern society, televisions have become a prominent source of information, besides being a source of entertainment. This essay aims at establishing the effects of mass media stereotypes on youth behavior in the modern society.
Mass media has an imperative effect on the psychosocial development of children, leading to the adoption of behaviors portrayed in the mass media. The exposure of youth to mass media should be regulated depending on the age appropriateness. Mass media tools run the gamut from televisions, music, radio, the internet, and video games. All the aforementioned aspects of mass media facilitated in the development of various social roles and character traits among youths. In the modern society, there is a vast range of information that is disseminated via websites, magazines, television programs, movies, books, billboards, and video games. The information depicted and transmitted from mass media significantly influence the youth behavior. The youth emulates behaviors portrayed in mass media in the form of gender roles, violence, sex, ethnicity, environment, and health (Kirsh, 2010).
The youth in the United States has significantly been affected by the information and stereotypes acquired from mass media. The mass media influence a range of behaviors such as alcohol usages, eating disorders, violence, and sexuality among others. Improved technology and use of the internet have played a significant role on youth behavior, in the United States. Young people have been exposed to vast sexual contents on televisions, and the internet. As a result, they become sexually active at a tender age, leading to a moral decay among youths. The mass media have been identified as one of the factors increasing sexual activeness among youths. A research study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stipulated that sexually active individuals have higher chances for having depression and committing suicide. These behaviors are usually intertwined and affect the youth perception concerning certain societal beliefs and norms. The presentation of information through television brings out implicit and explicit messages that cause adverse effect on individuals' social behaviors and gender roles in the society (Cover, 2012).
The mass media lead to both positive and negative effects on the society. Today, the media play a vital part in the dissemination of information around the world within a short span of time. The effects of mass media on the youth range from social, economic, and political spectrum. The psychosocial development of a child determines whether the mass medium will have a negative or positive influence. According to studies, men have dominated the television medium as compared to women. The implication of the dominance of men on mass media is that there is unequal representation of women in the media. The mass media has also portrayed women as dependent, domestic-care givers, and emotional. Men, on the other hand, have been depicted as the "bread winners," and providers of their families. Therefore, a representation of male and female in a traditional perspective has also been manifested by the mass media (Huston & Ripke, 2006).
Various impressions and implications within the mass media have a dominant effect on the youth, resulting in a certain perception about the society. The gender role stereotype attributed to the mass media has a significant effect on the younger generation as they learn the media. The media play a wide range of roles including as a tool for learning and gaining knowledge among individuals. Therefore, the mass media provide a platform where people can acquire knowledge through a balanced and equal opportunity. Television commercials can change the way youth perceive about traditional gender roles and responsibilities. Alternatively, children's views on women non-traditional gender roles can be advocated through television commercials. The main objective and concern of mass media on youth is the increase of certain behavior that ruins the development of socially responsible persons. For instance, in Canada, television has become a leading educator for sex in most families. According to reports, sexual interactions have increased by 270 percent during the family hour. Children are exposed to adult sexual habits that are portrayed as risk-free and normal (Tyyska, 2013).
In the modern society, alcohol and smoking have been rampant among the youths as a result of frequent advertisements in the mass media. These advertisements affect the youth, leading to increased consumption of beer and smoking. Beer and smoking commercials on the mass media are attributed to the rise in drug and substance abuse among youths. By contrast, a ban on the advertisement of alcohol in Sweden has resulted into a decline in alcohol consumption. The advertisement of tobacco has also caused a similar effect as alcohol consumption. Therefore, the mass media have made the youth believe that these habits are risk-free and healthy for individuals. The wrong assumption of media and its implications has led to adverse social behaviors among youths. In the United States, alcohol consumption and drug abuse cases have increased with the wide use of technology and the internet. As a result, most youths have dropped out of school while others have poor performance (Salmon, 2012).
The use of websites and game videos has an imperative effect on the youth and social development process. The depiction of real people fighting, shooting, and killing in video games is more likely going to cause real life incidences of robbery, stabbing and other violent related behaviors. The mental and social progress of a child is affected by such video games and movie, leading to perilous effects. As a result, parents are required to rate video games and movies in making decisions for their children. According to research studies, violent video games have been a major health concern for children over a long time. Violent video games and movies tend to instill an undesirable character trait among youths, leading to involvement in street gangs and subsequent crimes. The mass media, especially video games, have an addictive habit in the youth that adversely affects learning in school (Kirsh, 2010).
The vast distribution and absorption of mass media among people around the world continue to stir up debates about the extent of products such as music, video, and film effects on the behavior and social development of youth. In the past, the mass media has been producing images and information that misrepresent the complexity of African American. The contemporary issue about African American representation in America is being described as being paradoxical. This is as a result of simultaneous underrepresentation and overrepresentation across the mass media. For example, the appearance of blacks in the magazine advertisements and televisions is more frequent as compared to black oriented programs in television. An analysis of the film industry exhibits inequality in the position of African American on roles such as executive, directors, and writers. Underrepresentation of blacks in some of these big roles in the film industry brings out a racial issue among reporters, and white Americans in general (Huston & Ripke, 2006).
African Americans have been underrepresented in some spectrum of the society. However, they are numerously represented in media through sports, violence, and crime related activities. The tarnished image of the blacks on televisions and magazines has been as a result of their association with violence, and robbery and crime. The portrayal of blacks as athletes or musicians has been common with the reporters and news anchors. Overrepresentation of blacks as aggressive, violent, and associated with crime has a significant effect on youth. According to research, depiction of young black males and females as violence and drug abuse in the 1980's placed them as a threat to the society. The current image of blacks affects the cognitive development and self-esteem of African American youth (Preiss, 2011).
The overrepresentation of white Americans in television programs causes self-esteem issues among the black youths. The association of blacks with poverty and poor living standards through the mass media limits their capacity to take part in the expansion of consumer culture. As a result, the feeling of alienation, personal frustrations, and social stigma are commonly associated with the black American youth. The representation of blacks as being violent and their involvement in criminal activities leads to the development of myriad stereotypes among youths. Therefore, most black Americans youth will get involved in robbery, crime, and drug abuse. This has a negative image upon the society as a result of media influence on youth, and the society in general (Salmon, 2012).
The mass media have also played an imperative role in the transmission of cultural messages across individuals and youth in particular. The values portrayed by celebrities and the roles they play in various television programs carry much influence on youth. Various actors have adopted the masculinity and femininity aspect in representing both genders across the media. As a result, celebrities reinforce certain cultural stereotypes among youths that marginalize various groups in the society. In the mid-20th century, the mass media used to depict women as submissive, and adopted the traditional gender role. Media advertisements have been attributed to changes in cultural attributes within the modern society. For instance, youth has transformed the gender roles that dominated the society over the years. The mass media have played an imperative role in cultural transformation and adoption of certain behaviors among youths. The increased number of women in the mass media playing various roles has challenged the issue of femininity and traditional gender roles (O'Brien & Yar, 2008).
The new media, in the information age, has caused a significant change in the society. The rise and development of the internet among youths have impacted on their social and mental development in the society. The youth has amassed the new technology as a necessity in acquiring literacy and education in schools. The internet has resulted in efficient communication and has facilitated in the acquisition of information from anywhere around the world. The internet gas provided children with a platform through which they can access educational information. However, the provision of information that lacks editorial standards questions internet's credibility as a source of useful information. The amount of time spent on the internet or watching television, by youth, has an adverse effect on the health condition. Addictive behaviors, eyesight problems, and obesity are some of the disorders that are associated with sitting for a long time on computers or televisions (Kirsh, 2010).
Today, everyone uses the internet either for work or personal purpose. The effect of the internet has been diverse as broad content on the internet is, explicitly, viewed by all people. The mass media stereotypes have caused many transformations on the youth as a result of exposure of information and messages that impair social development. The cultural values and societal beliefs have vanished with the rise of new technology and mass media that has brought about the development of social behaviors among youths. The depiction of gender roles, sexual activities, health, and environmental issues in the mass media has a significant effect on youth. Therefore, it is imperative to restrict or minimize the exposure youth on these social upheavals exhibited in the mass media.
Cover, R. (2012). Queer Youth Suicide, Culture and Identity: Unliveable Lives? Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Huston, A. C., & Ripke, M. N. (2006). Developmental Contexts in Middle Childhood: Bridges to Adolescence and Adulthood. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kirsh, S. J. (2010). Media and Youth: A Developmental Perspective. London: John Wiley & Sons.
O'Brien, M., & Yar, M. (2008). Criminology: The Key Concepts. New York: Routledge.
Preiss, R. W. (2011). Mass Media Effects Research: Advances Through Meta-Analysis. New York: Routledge.
Salmon, C. T. (2012). Communication Yearbook 35. Washington: Taylor & Francis.
Tyyska, V. (2013). Youth and Society: The Long and Winding Road, Third Edition. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.