Mass Media Influence on Youth We are all active consumers of different kinds of information, the flow of which is continuously growing. Abundance of TV channels, websites on the Internet, a huge amount of video and audio production, newspapers and magazines – all these information has become an integral part of our lives. Every morning we watch TV, read newspapers, on the workplace during lunch we are sharing the latest news in sport, fashion; talking about movies we saw with our colleagues. After work we again plunge into the world of mass media – TV, computer, radio.
Can we imagine a specific time period, let`s say one week, during of which we will not be able to use any kind of mass media – no TV, no newspapers, no computers, no mobile phones? Not everyone would agree to do so since all our life – work, interests, hobbies are closely connected with media information. So, if we will think whether mass media has impact on us, we would definitely agree that it does – mass media is creating a specific “reality” around us, under influence of which we are forming our world outlook, values, preferences, etc.
Hence, if even we, adults, are influences by mass media, what about our children? Nowadays, mass media, like all other means of communication, operates as a special filter by selecting, assembling, and interpreting all information. Information can be knowledge; can be valid depending on source it comes from. So, considering that information coming from mass media is not always justified and true, we cannot always rely on it. Hence, there is a problem arising – young people who do not understand or do not know that information can be misleading are tend to believe it and, moreover, get influenced by it.
Now it is already admitted that all institutions that young people go through (kinder garden, school, college) have to teach them to think critically about information which comes from mass media. The peculiarity of child`s perception is that they tend to repeat in their games and behavior everything they see around themselves. In other words, children are trying to imitate someone or something they see without understanding whether it is right, good or not. Hence, considering the amount of time children spend in front of TV and computer games, we have to be concerned.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming. The consequences of hours-long watching TV and playing computer are well-known by everyone: eyesight deterioration, neurosis development, and both physical and mental degradation. Unfortunately, not always parents are able to draw away their kid’s attention from playing computer games or watching cartoons.
As a result, sooner or later parents are faced with serious problems not only regarding the level of health, but also emergent video games addiction. Moreover, the rapid popularity growth of video games leads to considerable changes in students` spare-time. Spread of the video technologies and personal computers allowed students to satisfy their cultural, educational, and social needs domiciliary, basically, within their rooms. For instance, lots of video games, which are popular among young people, are extremely dynamic and interactive – while playing a child can change levels, characters, places by himself.
In other words, the child has the impression that he/she is all-powerful: being in this virtual world, he is the “master”, who can be in control of everything, and rule the whole show. These are the reasons why children become addicted to video games and TV. Now we should see which advantages and disadvantages mass media has in order to understand how big and how bad is its influence. From the first hand, playing computer games, surfing the internet, working with educational games, young people can find lots of advantages and possibilities.
First, all these is a source of information – for example, a child can find and read any book he wants in any language he wants. Also, computer helps children to compensate deficiency of communication. They can “meet” new friends, talk to them through the Internet. There reason why it is very popular among youth is that the Internet gives you a great opportunity – to be anonymous. People can tell their problems, ask for advice, and share their worries without being afraid that they will be known.
Moreover, the virtual world is a very fascinating way of entertainment and relaxation. Video games, music, movies – all these is quite accessible for young people. Another advantage is that computer technologies can be used for educational means – lots of books, scientific works, geographical maps, different databases are available on the Internet. Hence, easy access to basically any kind of information, novelty, huge amount of entertainment, proximity of virtual reality to every-day life are the main advantages of mass media.
From the other hand, mass media has a reverse side. Fights, skirmishes, murders, included in lots of games and TV programs, are causing bad emotions and in general influencing negatively on children`s development. Statistics show that most of the top-selling video games (89%) contained violent content, almost half of which was of a serious nature. Considering the fact that 9 out of 10 children are playing violent games, and it is between age of 4 and 18, then it might be interesting to see which games they prefer. Medal of honor” is one of the most popular games, where for every killed adversary, for every exploded house kid gets bonuses. Another popular game is «GTA», the aim of which is accomplishing different missions connected with killing, car theft, setting of an explosion. As we saw, unfortunately, young gamers prefer games that contain a virtual violence. Remember – children repeat everything what they see? Hence, we may conclude that virtual representation of violence has a big influence on children`s behaviour – by making them more aggressive, and more interested in those kind of things.
In order to see the amount of violence on TV, I did a small research. I went to website of one of the most popular channels in Russia and streamed one day TV schedule. As was found, the schedule is full of programs, the content of which is very violent; news and detective shows, and criminal columns are translating robberies, murders, and all kind of acts of violence. In average, during one hour of on-air broadcasting there are four scenes of violence, which i. e. every 15 minutes our children are becoming witnesses of.
Young people see about 10 thousands scenes of violence during one year. Hence, by the time they finish school, they are becoming witnesses and sometimes “participants” of about 100 thousands TV and computer “crimes”. Little by little images of violence are becoming not so shocking, and are perceived like a spectacle. Children are getting used to it and taking it in their stride. According to statistics, more than 30% of crimes by minors are committed because of being influenced by TV. Moreover, 45% of young people who spend in front of TV more than 3 hours per day show signs of ggressiveness. In this situation we can say that mass media causes harm to children`s health and psychological state. The negative effect of on-screen violence can become apparent in an asocial behavior of a child, which is accompanied with inadequate attitudes towards surroundings. The child usually shows aggression, is not able to stay calm, and uses words and phrases, which he/she have heard in TV programs and video games. Another feature in changed behavior can be intimidation, unsociability.
Touchiness, irritability, impulsivity – these media-addicted children`s attributes prevent them from normal development, limit his communication and creative self-expression. Moreover, sedentary life, hours-long eyesight stress also lead to changes in child`s behavior. A kid, being at the same position several hours in a row, later is looking for splash of his energy. And hopefully, he/she will do it without harming surrounded people. Also this “mass media generation” is very incline to different kinds of depression.
Emotional problems such as anxiety, nervousness are observed among young people. There are several reasons for it – overworking in school, nervous stress during studying. And of course, mass media here also plays a big role. The thing is that, lots of video games are made so hard to pass, that schoolchildren are not able to win. Long trying to pass to another level are ending by failures. One wrong step and child has to do the same thing again and again. Also mass media causes difficulties connected with concentration skills and critical thinking skills.
For instance, while watching TV for more than 3 hours, children are concentrating too much on what is happening on the screen. After this “hard work” they are not able to concentrate on their homework. One important research on this topic was made by Jeffrey Johnson (Columbia University in New York). From 1995 till 2000 Johnson studied more than 700 families living in New York. According, to professor, violence and aggression are provoked by almost everything, which is translation on our screens – news, sport programs, advertisement, and even programs for kids.
Researchers wanted to understand is it television that causes aggression or it is people, who are aggressive, would watch TV more willingly. It was found out that people, who tend to be aggressive in their past, stopped watching TV when they grew up. This let researches assume that it is TV that makes people aggressive, not vice-versa. Examining aggression as a consequence of watching TV hours-long, researchers were not considering other well-known factors of being aggressive such as law income, uneducated parents, and other different problems. The study was made among both children and adults.
However, it was found out that teenagers are more tend to get aggressive after watching TV. In every observed family there was a child of age from 1 to 10. In the end of this research, all those young children were filling out a special questionnaire about their inclination to aggressiveness. Data showed that 45% of youth of the age of 14, who watched TV more than 3 hours per day, are inclined to aggressive behavior, and 20% are even dangerous for society. In other words, they can commit different crimes. From those, who spent less than 1 hour per day in front TV, only 9% were aggressive.
But then again we can say that violent scenes are very attractive to children. The reason why they are so popular among them is that they want to feel “excitement”, “emotional boom”. Another reason is that stolen pleasures are sweet – those programs are usually prohibited by parents. That is why those kinds of scenes are becoming “desired” among children. Moreover, very often children like to virtually “participate” in what happens on the screen – some of them feel sympathy for victims; some of them for like to watch how people fight, cause each other pain.
Different studies show that aggressive children are tend to watch programs and movies, which include scenes of violence, they enjoy watching how other people behave aggressively. On the contrary, kids who are afraid of violence are trying to avoid scenes that include aggressiveness in order not to have negative emotions. Many countries around the world made an attempt to protect children from on-screen violence. In Greece, for instance, there is a rule – for every program on TV there is a special sign, which says who can watch it. For example, a red sign with a cross on it means that no children allowed watching this program.
A green sign means that this program is for family. Also from 5 pm till 10 pm it is forbidden to show programs which can traumatize children`s state of mind. In Europe special commission are made in order to determine which movies allowed for which age class. Therefore, we may conclude that nowadays there is oversaturation of channels with entertaining programs, considerable part of which is addressed to young people. As we know, demand determines supply. And if modern audience wants to have fun, mass media will make sure to give it everything it asks for.
Hence, we are having fun, but with us our children are also in front of TV, computer, etc. .. “having fun”. However, the perception is completely different. “The media makes billions of dollars with the advertising they sell and that we are exposed to. We buy what we are told to be good, after seeing thousands of advertisings we make our buying decisions based on what we saw on TV, newspapers or magazines to be a product we can trust and also based on what everyone else that we know is buying and their decision are also based on the media.
These are the effects of mass media in teenagers; they buy what they see on TV, what their favourite celebrity advertise and what is acceptable by society based on the fashion that the media has imposed them. ” Nowadays, in lots of countries there is a demographic decline; parents are trying to protect their children from external influence. They prefer their kids to stay at home, in front of TV, computers rather than stay outside, where there are so many dangers. But what it can lead to we already know.
Work Cited HubPages. “Mass Media Influence on Society. ” HubPages. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. . Kidhealth. “How TV Affects Your Child. ” KidsHealth – the Web’s Most Visited Site about Children’s Health. 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2010. . Mediaed. “MEDIA VIOLENCE: FACTS & STATISTICS. ” Media Education Foundation. 2005. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. Medvedeva, Galina. “Aggression. TV`s Influence on Youth. ” Web. 12 Dec. 2010. . MVD. “Statistics on Crimes. ” Website of MVD. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. . Note: plus research done by me