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How Media Affects Adolescents
The society today is saturated with media and it has propagated deep into the lives of people; young, adolescent, adult and elderly and it deep impacts both sociological and psychological. The psychological impacts of media are those that are in return related to the sociological impacts, whereby society becomes what media teaches them and it tries to replicate what it has absorbed through the various forms of media via imitation and acting it out. Where on the one hand media plays a vital role in educating, spreading awareness and making the viewer more informed, at the same time it targets vulnerable, juvenile and immature minds especially those of adolescents and teenagers, who are quick in replicating what they see and get affected very quickly. The effects are mostly negative ranging from aggression and violence in behavior to desultory sexual behavior and indulging in habits that their favorite characters like to indulge in such as smoking and drinking. Moreover, the problem lies in controlling these adolescents because they have easy access to various media nowadays.
Media today is present in the forms of television, movies and theater, magazines and newspapers, and the ever important social media, which makes up the largest exposure to media that these adolescents have. Many studies and research have gone into the effects of media upon adolescents, and it has produced results that have caused alarm in the society. (Bryant et al., 2008).
Exposure to media has various effects on the health both physical and mental, which is a big source of the health issues that prevail amongst youngsters that are carried off in the long run in their lives.
Moreover, media has affected the psychology of these people negatively, by making them live in a world of ideals that they look up to and wish to be like them and when that is not fulfilled, they go into depression and other behavioral disorders that can harm their personality, as well as life.
The health effects of media on adolescents was observed in a study when it was discovered that an average person used seven hours of media in its various forms such as television, movies, video games as well, where most of the times these adolescents had gaming consoles and PlayStations in their rooms, with full access to the media at all times, making them use them without control, which also renders it as an unhealthy and addictive habit. The results of these games and the rampant use of the media are deleterious for their everyday life and developing habits. (Ncbi, 2003).
Many adolescents are overweight or obese because of the numerous hours of the day they spend in front of their TV sets or just sit and use the internet, using social media or lying down and using their cell phones. Many teenagers and youngsters are therefore becoming obese, succumbing to bad eating disorders and developing unhealthy eating habits. Usually, they consume a lot of fast foods that are unhealthy for them, and they can develop other diseases like diabetes or high cholesterol early in life which affects their health lifelong. (Bryant et al., 2008).
Not only are boys among those who are addicted to media, it even leaves a bad impact on girls. Young girls, who idolize slim and petite women on TV or the social media who have the perfect body and the right weight, begin to starve themselves, eating as little as they can so they can lose the maximum weight and become as thin as their idol is. (Ncbi, 2003).
This results in bad health, disorders like anorexia and even snobbishness where these girls think they look better than all the rest, leading them into mocking other girls and spreading fake arrogance and a bad atmosphere in the society.
Adolescents, who need to focus on school or college get addicted to gaming and other forms of media that they neglect their school and college work and end up getting bad grades. Moreover, if they don’t play they feel they cannot concentrate on their studies and their minds constantly revolve around the games. Where on the one hand, media can help to give awareness to the issue and help spread awareness on the how to not get addicted to it and spend their time wisely, however, it is still seen as failure on its part because adolescents are becoming even more dependent on media with the passage of time. (Bryant et al., 2008).
Also, the dependence that media has taken over the social lives of these adolescents. Many adolescents now feel that they would prefer to stay at home and talk to their friends virtually rather than actually going out and meeting them for real. This leaves many youngsters alone and feeling isolated because while their friends actually hang out with one another in real life, they are left at home in front of a computer screen or their cell phones and aimlessly look for leisure in life while they are actually missing out on socializing and being with their ‘real’ friends. (Villani, 2001).
Also, not only is the isolation that an adolescent goes through a problem associated with media, it is the kind of behavior, grooming and personality grooming that recurs out of its exposure. Many a times, media will show things that have violence, cruelty, aggression and abuse, and that is portrayed in a very glorified manner in some movies and video games. These leave an impact on the adolescents who watch such programs and play such video games that they actually begin to adopt and follow the traits of the characters they like best which causes them to become aggressive, intolerant and harsh in their real life. Little do they realize that make believe cannot be taken for real. (Villani, 2001). These adolescents then begin to cause deviation in society by doing criminal acts, or by bothering people who have never said anything to them. Such adolescents suffer from behavior adjustment as well because they cannot normalize themselves and mingle with other people in the society. They also have problems in making good friends, and they end up losing jobs or becoming addicted to bad habits like drinking and smoking as a result of the material they saw. Many adolescents have increasingly turned to drinking alcohol, beer and wine at a young age because they are prone to imitate who they saw, and they wish to be just like them. Another negative is smoking that destroys the lives of many adolescents and gives them a bad habit that dies hard. Even alcoholism does not get away that easy. This scars even the ablest of adolescents who do well in studies and have a good social life but if they are influenced by the wrong message they get from the media, they have no escape from these bad habits. (Ncbi, 2003).
Not only violence but the incorrect sexual behavior is also a major negative way in which media affects adolescents. The blatant and sexual material that is exhibited in media such as movies, video games, magazines and other places such as the internet to which every adolescent has access to, makes it a little difficult to monitor what the person sees and how they respond to it. Many times watching pornographic or incorrect sexual material leads to adolescents practicing sex early in life and making a lot of mistakes. They get into relationships that they regret all life long and make bad choices in their love life. (Strasburger et al., 2010).
This also leads to teenage pregnancies and abortions and they leave a bad impact on the society because such actions are inappropriate at a ripe age when these adolescents need to be focusing on more important issues in their life. (Victor, C, 1995).
However, the media is not always about the negatives. Media does a lot to improve the conditions that many adolescents go through and in the present day media helps to educate and spread awareness amongst the youth about the various issues they deal with.
The internet, for one, is the biggest educator for adolescents where it informs them about every topic they are curious for, and the correct use of it can make their lives better and more resourceful. For instance, it is the best sex educator because many who would be shy of knowing it better consult it and then stay away from things that can harm them if they went about it the wrong way. Also, the internet also informs about sexually transmitted diseases and how to prevent oneself from having them, and this education helps to save a lot of lives and makes these adolescents more aware and responsible. (Villani, 2001).
Therefore media affects the lives of adolescents in both positive and negative ways, by acknowledging them with the world, spreading awareness, educating them and helping them connect with everyone in the world. However, it also misleads them because they gain the wrong message from the content they are exposed to and get into bad habits and adverse lifestyles that can harm them in the long run. If media use is limited for adolescents and content is monitored, then they can be saved from getting affected adversely.
Bryant et al., (2008). Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research. Hamilton Printing
Group. Retrieved (24 April, 2015) from http://books.google.com.pk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ShOQAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA453&dq=effects+of+media+on+adolescents&ots=evKdERCRJN&sig=ynzsZymaRp-au7cRfahS5bam5UU#v=onepage&q=effects%20of%20media%20on%20adolescents&f=false
Ncbi. (2003). The impact of media use of children and youth. Pediatr child health. Retrieved (24
April, 2015) from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792691/
Strasburger, et al., (2010). Health effects of media on children and adolescents. Pediatrics
Online. Retrieved (24 April, 2015) from http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/125/4/756.short
Victor C, Strasburger. (1995). Adolescents and the media. Sage Publications. Retrieved (24 April, 2015) from http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1995-97764-000
Villani, Susan. (2001). Impact of media on children and adolescents; A 10-Year review of the
Research. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Retrieved (24 April, 2015) from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890856709603877
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