Effects of Television as Mass Media on Children of 10 Years Essay
Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website!
Mass media is a collective term that refers to all the media technologies whose sole intention is reaching a vast audience through mass communication. There are two major categories of mass media, which are, broadcast media and print media. Transmission of information by broadcast media is via electronic means while transmission of information by print media is via physical means. Broadcast media comprise of radio, film, CDs, television, and many more. Print media comprise of magazines, newspapers, newsletters, leaflets, books, pamphlets and brochures.
“Effect” is a term that refers to something produced by a cause. It can also be referred to as a consequence. This research paper seeks to investigate both positive and negative effects of mass media on children. Possible solutions to address or mitigate the negative effects of mass media will also be highlighted.
Differential Effects of Mass Media on Children
The mass media, particularly, broadcast media, significantly affects childhood development in that, it provides information-seeking and modeling opportunities outside school and family.
It has been estimated that the average American child watches more than 20, 000 television commercials annually. According to statistical data collected in the year 2000, children aged between the ages of two and five spent 40 hours watching television on a weekly basis. Those between six to eleven years spent 50 to 60 hours weekly watching television. These findings clearly show that mass media plays an essential life in shaping a child’s beliefs, behaviors and attitudes (Bento, 2004).
Among the key manifestation of the negative effects that media has on children is their declining lifestyle quality and changing mental set up. Instead of investing their time in studying, reading good books, engaging in social activities, and exercising, children choose to spend their evenings watching movies or glued to the television sets. With increasing technological advancement, the Internet can easily be accessed, even by small children. This exposes such children to things that they do not necessarily need to know and may not understand. The reading culture is gradually fading and substituted by mass media. This poses a negative effect on school performance as well as learning problems. Children are increasingly reporting low academic grades and problems in learning due to overindulgence in mass media (Matthew & Jesse, 2008)
Food advertising in broadcast media such as televisions has been linked to rising cases of childhood obesity. There is a strong relationship between an increase in non-nutritious food advertising and childhood obesity. It is extremely hard for children below the age of six to differentiate between advertising and programming. Those below the age of eight do not comprehend the fact that the main intention of advertising is to persuade the audience to purchase a given product.
Therefore, non-nutritious or junk food advertising directed to children may turn out to be exploitative. A single commercial exposure can go a long way in influencing product references among children. Additionally, the remarkable ability of children to remember the content from various advertisements increases their likelihood to indulge in unhealthy eating habits such as over-consumption of unhealthy fast foods, which results to heightened rates of childhood obesity (Munni & Ram, 2010).
Body image problems and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are also directly linked to mass media. This is especially the case with teenage girls. The mass media ads portray models with unrealistic images. More often than not, the models appear to have extremely thin waists and figures that are unattainable. In the attempt to look like the models seen in televisions, teenage girls may starve themselves and even develop unhealthy eating habits such as binging. This results to development of eating disorder. Mass media tends to dictate various aspects including the ideal image or the definition of beauty. Children blindly imitate the glamour models portrayed in mass media without being careful enough to differentiate between wrong and right. Several young girls have developed self-esteem issues due to failure to match up to the image and beauty standards dictated by the media (Page & Evra, 2004).
A negative effect of mass media that is worth noting is with respect to sexuality. Mass media may prompt children to engage in sexual activities at an early age. Research has indicated that children are exposed to approximately 14, 000 sexual references annually in televisions. Out of these references, only 150 of them address issues of abstinence, sexual responsibility, or contraception (Preiss, 2007). This implies that sex is portrayed as a fun activity, which prompts children to have an urge to try it out. Overexposure to sexual content in videos, games and television programming is strongly linked to increasing rates of teen pregnancies. A similar case applies to substance abuse, which is highly depicted in movies that children watch. Out of curiosity, such children begin trying out different illegal drugs and substances seen in media sources.
Positive Social Effects of Mass Media
Despite the mentioned negative effects, there are a number of positive social effects of mass media on children. Mass media plays a major role in enhancing positive child development. For instance, various educational programs aired in televisions may serve to increase children’s knowledge and understanding of various life aspects. Positive role models portrayed in the mass media can also serve as a positive social developmental tool for children and young adults. Qualitative research studies have shown that one way in which televisions enhance development in children is portraying positive role models of collaboration and development as a responsible manner of acting (Preiss, 2007). It is therefore evident that televisions can serve as a means learning of positive reinforcement in children.
Mass media has also played a major role in enhancing socialization among children. With advanced technology, children can easily access the internet, which is a major socialization tool. The internet serves as an effective means of communication among individuals regardless of their geographical locations. The internet can also serve as a good source of knowledge on various aspects. By using search engines such as Google, children can increase their knowledge and understanding of various subjects learnt in school. The internet provides a vast range of information on various topics and fields of study. Therefore, it is an excellent research tool that can be utilized positively by students (Munni, 2010).
Mass media programs can serve as a means of minimizing the effects of stereotyping among children. These programs often portray cast members from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Hence, children learn to appreciate cultural diversity from a tender age. Mass media therefore serves a means of increasing the preparedness of children for adolescence. Constructive utilization of mass media can play a significant role in helping children and young adults to learn socially appropriate means if solving conflicts, knowing their rights and protection from harm. Mass media can also serve as a tool for promoting health lifestyles and eating habits in children (Page, 2004).
Parental control is one of the possible solutions to preventing the negative influence of mass media on children. Parents should take charge of the content that is accessible to their kids. They should prevent their kid from watching programs aimed at promoting violence, substance abuse as well as those containing sexually explicit content. One workable way is switching off the television or changing channels during certain programming and adverts that are meant to exploit children. Parents should help their children understand the difference that exists between actual reality and fantasy world. This is especially with respect to images and beauty expectations dictated by the mass media. Parents should let their children know the essence of loving oneself and appreciating oneself. This is a good step toward helping such kids to build on their self-esteem and confidence (Debra, 2003).
Practitioners should conduct research and provide relevant empirical evidence showing the impact that mass media has on increasing the rate of childhood obesity. Laying emphasis on this subject will shed light on different kinds of advertising and try to limit those that encourage consumption of unhealthy foods. In addition to practitioners, researchers also have an important role to play. There is the need for conducting further research on the negative consequences of mass media and how to combat them. Research should also focus on ways of promoting the positive contribution of mass media to a child’s social development (Bento, 2004).
Rather than letting children invest most of their time watching television and other media platforms, schools should encourage children to do assignments or further study during their free time. They should also be encouraged to take part in co-curricular activities such as games. The entertainment industry should be careful of the content that it portrays to the audience. With the help of the government, it would be possible to censure some of the programming and advertisements that pose negative effects on children. Rather than just focusing on persuasion and the profits that would be generated from products, the advertising industry should play the role of promoting adverts that lead to constructive developments. The adverts promoted should result to healthy lifestyles in children (Berulava, 2010).
It is therefore evident that different stakeholders including parents, school, the government and even the entertainment industry, have a fundamental role to play in preventing the negative effects that media poses on children. The government and policy makers should work toward implementation of policies that put restrictions and control to the time specific content should be aired in broadcast media sources such as televisions. A good suggestion is for programs that contain violence or sexual content to be aired late at night when children are already asleep (Kirsh, 2006).
Childhood development is significantly affected by mass media. With advanced technology, children are continually exposed to thousands of television commercials and even sexual references. Some of the negative effects of mass media include poor performance, early onset of sex, substance abuse, and violence. Mass media may also have positive effects such as increasing knowledge and enhancing positive social development in children. Parents, government, advertising industry, practitioners, researchers, and the entertainment industry have a major role to play in prevention and management of the effects of mass media on children.
Bento, J. (2004) Meditating the negative effects of mass media on children. Seattle: Antioch University Publishers
Berulava, M. N. (2010) The Nation is in Danger. Russian Education and Society, 52(3), 30-36
Debra, M. (2003) Questioning the media and reclaiming our sacred space. Paths of Learning, 15, 24
Fink, G. (2010) Stress of War, Conflict and Disaster. California: Elsevier Publications Kirsh, S. (2006) Children, adolescents, and media violence. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications, Inc
Matthew, G., & Jesse, S. (2008) Preschool television viewing and adolescent test scores: historical evidence from the Coleman study. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 123(1), 279-323 Munni, R., & Ram, K. (2010) Effect of electronic media on children. Indian Pediatrics, 47(7), 561-568
Page, J., & Evra, V. (2004) Television and child development. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Preiss, R. (2007) Mass media effects research; advances through meta-analysis. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.