Today, Mass Media is notoriously known to project a negative influence on teens and society. It manipulates several aspects of our lives including, but not limited to, the choices we make about our overall physical appearance, how we perceive beauty, healthy decisions we make regarding drug and alcohol use, engaging in premarital sex, and our peer and social interactions. We emulate what the media portrays as acceptable and desirable, though it goes against the norms and values put forth from society.
As we mature, our goals and values seem to change as we break from the traditional values and connect with those portrayed as cool and current, through the media and pop culture. During adolescence, one often struggles with choosing between what is right from wrong and the media often accentuates the lives of celebrities. Young children are known to emulate their role models, unconscious of the consequences that may result in their actions. The media has been proven to be detrimental to the health and lifestyle of the youth.
The media has a strong impact on the appearance satisfaction of today’s youth. Young women are constantly comparing their bodies to the ones seen advertised on television commercials. Around 10 million females and 1 million males in the United States are suffering from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, etc. After seeing these beautiful and flawless models on billboards and advertisements, many women are disturbed with their personal body images.
This is known to be a main contributor to eating disorders around the world. Thus, the media has the effect to change one’s mental set up. Beauty and Body Image in the Media” is an article that explains the negative affect the media has on young women and how they view themselves. Images of female bodies are seen in films, TV, magazines, ads, etc. These models are engraving the perfect body image into the minds’ of the youth. Women’s magazines are full of ads influencing women that if they lose weight they’ll have it all. Researchers have observed that these images of thin and airbrushed models are associated with depression, loss of self-esteem, and the development of harmful eating habits.
It’s been suggested that almost half of all preadolescent girls are dissatisfied with their appearances and either diet or think about dieting. Further, 50 to 70 percent of average weight girls feel that they’re overweight and 90 percent of women are frustrated with their body images. These advertisements are not only advertising their products, but they’re also selling an entire way of life. The media promotes tan, fit, and outward physical perfection in men and women. It is not only middle-aged adults who seek cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance.
Today, children also undergo cosmetic procedures. In fact, in 2005 it was reported that children under the age of 18 underwent approximately 333,000 cosmetic procedures. Some included liposuction, breast augmentation, otoplasties (ear pinnings), and rhinoplasties (nose jobs). Teenagers of both genders are trying to acquire a perfect figure rather than living a healthy lifestyle and appreciating themselves for who they truly are. The media also has a reputation for promoting unhealthy choices, such as unprotected premarital sex and drug and alcohol use.
The media is sending the wrong message to young adults that taking part in these activities is okay. The article, “The Media’s Influence Undermines America’s Morals”, by Tim LaHaye contains numerous examples of how the media is detrimental to the future of the United States. AIM, Accuracy In Media, and PMRC, Parents Music Resource Center, are organizations that support government regulation of the media. They believe that the media is destroying our culture and altering our values. Moviemakers, producers, and journalists are provoking sexual immorality in our society by explicitly exposing and promoting sexual relationships.
The media is even found glamorizing teen pregnancies in the MTV series, 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. LaHaye states that, “the media’s power is seen in its degrading influence not only on the nation’s morals, but on… virtually every area of life. ” Music also plays a huge role in influencing teens toward becoming sexually active and provocative. “Rock Music Has a Negative Effect on the Youth”, by Rob Lamp is another article which states that rock music is somewhat accountable for the increase in teenage pregnancies.
A counselor for pregnant teenagers believes that young girls are emulating celebrities. They are buying their albums and dressing like them. Today, 30 percent of all women loose their virginity before age sixteen. Violence sexuality has also become popular in music videos and song lyrics. Rap lyrics are being criticized by child advocate groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, for imparting the wrong message to the youth about sex and drugs. Misogamy is a derogatory or hateful comment geared towards girls and women and a lot of rap artists tend to include misogamy in their lyrics.
The APA has determined that today’s youth actually spends more time listening to and reading to the lyrics via the Internet to their favorite music than they do watching television. This council urges parents to be vigilant when it comes to knowing what their children are listening to. Lamp also states “the kind of electronic music played at raves has been associated with the use of drugs and alcohol. ” The Robert Wood Johnson foundation backed a report titled “Substance Abuse: The Nations Number One Health Problem”, which shows juveniles are starting to use drugs and alcohol between the ages of 12 and 13.
In fact, by eighth grade 52 percent of adolescents have used alcohol and 20 percent have used marijuana. This figure jumps to 80 percent use of alcohol and 49 percent use of marijuana by the 12th grade. A research conducted in 1997 showed that in the 200 most popular movie rentals, alcohol appears almost 93 percent of the time and illicit drugs appeared roughly 25 percent of the time. Further, of the 1,000 most popular songs, 27 percent were shown to include alcohol or drug references. These numbers have surely risen since 1997.
In addition to music videos and song lyrics promoting premarital sex and drug/alcohol use, this form of media is also seen promoting violent behavior among adolescent teens. Robert Lamp also believes that “heavy metal and rap have been associated with reckless behavior and below-average academic performance… heavy metal and rock music have also been associated with an increasing risk of suicide, depression, delinquency risk behavior, smoking, and conduct problems” (Neale 1). In recent years, lyrics are becoming more vulgar and inappropriate.
The violence heard in rock music instigates adolescents to commit violent crimes. In Northport NY, a seventeen-year-old boy was slaughtered; the names of Ozzy Osbourne and his former band members were spray painted at the crime scene, along with many satanic symbols. Doctor Guttman, a Professor of Psychiatry at Northwestern University states that, “Rock has so often been involved in these things (violence, teen suicide, etc. ) many of us in psychiatry have had to take it more seriously. ” 45 percent of about 1,200 rock music videos supervised were viewed as explicitly violent.
Video games and movies also play a prominent role in promoting violence among youth. The article “Most Teens Play Violent Video Games”, by Ben Berkowitz and published in the Washington Post, states that “70 percent of American teenage boys have played the violent, but popular “Grand Theft Auto” video game, and they are more likely to have been in a fight than those who have not played. ” It is clear that the violence depicted through these games are mimicked by youth who have difficulty distinguishing between fantasy and what is appropriate and acceptable in a realistic environment.
Tim LaHaye gives a real life example of how the media affects certain people. In San Diego, a High School honor student watched An ABC horror movie on the life of Lizzy Borden, an infamous axe murderer in the 1890’s. After viewing this film, he decided to murder his mother, father, and sister. These examples illustrate how juvenile violence is promoted through music, video games, and movies. We live in a society that depends greatly on the media to impart information, allow for communication, and provide entertainment on a regular basis throughout our daily lives.
It is vital that we are attentive and vigilant in deciding what our youth should be allowed to view and listen to, as we know there is a direct connection between what one consumes and what one in turn values, how one behaves and how one interacts in society. Too much exposure to the negative aspects of the media can be detrimental to one’s mental, emotional and physical health. The media influences how we perceive beauty, the healthful decisions we make, and how we interact socially. The negative media is harmfully transforming our ethical values of life and our outlook on society.