The media has long been tagged as one of the things that influence people the most. It is because when we talk of media it covers the radio, television, and print. There is also electronic media, which includes the use of computers and other latest gadgets. With all these technology available readily available to everybody, it cannot be denied that whatever people see and hear will have en effect on them. The influence of media on young people is another point of discussion.
The youth represents majority of the population. Teenagers and young adults are part of this group. They represent the significant percentage of people who are self conscious of their image; hence they are the target audience of producers and advertisers. The influence can be good or bad, depending on how the individuals respond to the shows, movies, commercials, and other media products.
In terms of body image, the media bombards the young girls’ minds with images of skinny models. This makes them feel that if they are a few pounds heavier than these images on the magazine then they are unacceptable to the society. As time passes, it has been observed that the girls who are becoming weight conscious gets younger and youngerfor instance, about 80% of nine-year-olds are on diets and that the number of eating disorder cases has been rising.
Through the media, boys are getting obsessed with their body because they always see well-built men in magazines and television shows. Staying fit has never been an issue but there is an alarming increase in the number of people who adhere to obsessive weight training and use anabolic steroids and dietary supplements that promise these boys bugger muscles and more stamina for lifting.
With regard to sex, three out of four teenagers say that the television shows and movies make it seem normal for children their age to engage in sexual relations. The young teens regard the entertainment media as the number one source of information about sexuality and sexual health. Being open about sex and how they talk to their girlfriends or boyfriends about it is largely because of what they see and hear.
In terms of violence, one study shows that children are learning aggressive attitudes and behaviors because of watching shows and movies that depict such behavior. They develop a fear of being victimized by violence. What most of the programs they see and hear send the false notion that in every conflict there has to be a winner and a loser, thus making them believe that violence is a successful means of resolving conflicts.
Media violence can lead to aggressive behavior in children and this is supported by a research that states that when a child hits the age of 18, he must have seen about 200,000 acts of violence on television alone. Young children become desensitized to the real world violence. They cannot easily tell the difference between real life and fantasy that the violent images they see on television and in the movies may seem real to them.
Parents can reduce the negative influence of media on young people by limiting and monitoring the programs the children watch. They should also teach the children the value of inner beauty, the value of self worth, and alternatives to violence.