Social media refers to websites that are designed to share pictures, videos, and more with others in real time. It’s loved for its easy convenience in terms of socializing, sharing, and interaction. However, it contains more than what it seems. Apps like Twitter or Instagram are known as a major ground held by most people to talk about politics, environmental issues, and social awareness. Not only have they turned into a ground for debates but they also contain a massive load of advertisements for products given by famous, well-known and loved celebrities, models and of course “media influencers”.

Such conversations and advertisements may of course by offensive and triggering to some but also confusing to young and undeveloped minds. Social media holds negativity that seems to have a hold on most of our lives and especially, the youth. With every press and swipe from our fingertips to every like and comment on a post, we are controlled by the media and society.

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What those on social media see, like, and hear impacts much of the behavior of American youth. 56% of teens have some kind of social media account.

The image of a “perfect life” is exposed to most people from a young age. What the youth is exposed to on social media influences their points of view, their positive or negative behavior, and even their future in terms of self-esteem and confidence. Young people often imitate the behavior of media “influencers”, this is called identity-play. Most children take up their parents’ opinions on politics or environmental issues, but recently more have been finding their own opinions through what they see others online talk about.

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It may seem like a good thing to create cultural, environmental, political, and social awareness to give them a better understanding of society, although at such a young age it can cause them to take on unhelpful ideas on an individual level. When influencers have a fraction of viewers under the age of sixteen and they talk about sensitive topics like depression, anxiety, or suicide, it may be empowering to an older audience who cope with these issues. Although, such topics can also be confusing to more vulnerable viewers and this is what leads to them taking up unhealthy behavior. Influencers can also affect kids interests and likings just as simply. Social media is where many children are targeted by media influencers.

Scrolling on Instagram for ten minutes would lead one to see advertisements given by celebrities, Youtubers, and recognizable people. These advertisements could be about anything, clothing skin care, and a more dangerous and affecting one, weight loss. This leads to the mere-exposure effect. The mere-exposure effect is where people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. When one sees the same advertisements by the same “perfect” people, they develop a liking towards it. Not only do these influencers advertise products but they publicly share opinions on sensitive topics. This strongly affects the youth’s points of view on generally all topics, from playful issues to serious issues. This leads to decoding what is the positive and the negative side of social media and seeing how each side affects youth’s behavior. It may seem like the internet forces you to develop unhealthy habits, but there is a happy medium. Social media apps make socializing and catching up easier. Some may use such apps to learn about worldwide issues or even seek help in support groups. It may even help some spread joy to others’ lives. Statistics show that less than only 21% of today’s youth say it makes them feel less lonely, less depressed, less anxious, and more confident and popular. But, not everything on social media reflects positive and good behavior. The negative side of social media deals with toxic comparisons, social issues, unhealthy focuses, and unhelpful suggestions.

Many kids generally have low-self esteem due to toxic comparisons between what we see as realistic vs what society sees as realistic. There is a basic cause and effect problem to this, teens see the unrealistic body and face representations and this makes them want to change their physical appearance. A more physically dangerous effect is when new risky challenges on social media resurface. Many see the likes the challenges get and it convinces them to engage in it and shows negative behavior, accepting these challenges as normal. This can lead to long term misinterpretation of many things. 80% of adult women in America say images of other women on TV or in the media make them feel insecure, and more than half say it had started at a young age. Many feel burdened by the pressure to look perfect, most of this comes from being suffocated with seeing thin people have fame. It’s almost seen that if you’re thin, you’re happy. This causes personas to develop. Personas are created when people want to mask serious issues behind fake perfection. These personas are extremely dangerous to teens and usually seen as a “phase”. Teens who create personas feel frustrated and depressed of the gap between their pretend online life to their true self. Kids view social media through the lens of their own life. Not only does the risky behavior they form from what they’re exposed to the media affect their health, but also raises many crime rates. In many unsafe neighborhoods, crime is just swiftly gazed upon.

Since movies, television shows, and everything else in the mainstream media portray gang violence, drug dealing, and unhealthy behavior overall as a normal way of life the youth sees those problems as solutions. Children in these neighborhoods then see crime and accept it as normal. They become triggered by society and do what they’re so used to seeing around them. This influences how they see the world as they grow older, in their eyes the world could either be a place for improvement or a place where you constantly decline with age. This problem has many layers, but lots can agree that the roots of the issue lay in what dangerous sightings the youth come across in the media and later adapt to their own life.

This outcome is all impacted by what those were exposed to growing up and how much hope they were naturally given as a young child, if what they have seen in the media or in society doesn’t give them a sense for hope for their future, these major problems are just steps away. All things considered, what the youth are exposed to on social media influences their whole life. Every decision or opinion is affected by what they’re familiar with. Social media, movies, and even other people will most likely continue to mirror how the youth behaves for years to come. What future generations will be exposed to, we can only imagine. Whether this issue becomes better or worse, human progression may always revolve around the media.

Cite this page

How Media Attract and Affect Youth?. (2021, Feb 04). Retrieved from

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