In today’s pop culture society, it can be difficult for teens to escape the relentless barrage of media images that seem to be everywhere. Media influences aren’t necessarily bad, but teens are vulnerable to certain types of images and can lose sight of what is truly important when watching TV, viewing movies, playing video games or surfing the Internet becomes an obsession. If you don’t want to get into trouble, you might want to consider the impact that various forms of media have on you and make a plan for how you will deal with negative influences and enhance positive ones.
Violence in Entertainment
Watching violence on TV or in movies can desensitize a teen and make him or her more likely to view violence in real life as a normal thing. Teens who frequently encounter violent acts in a movie, TV or video game may also be more likely to commit violent acts themselves. Alternately, some teens who are frequently exposed to media violence may become victims of domestic violence or bullying and not report it because they view the situation as normal based on what they have seen in the media.
Body Image Issues
While it can be fun to watch celebrities act out all of the things you wish you could do, it can also pose a hidden danger. Idolizing celebrities can make a teen self-conscious about his or her looks or personality traits. This is particularly common in females, and girls often feel like they have to diet or exercise excessively to match the look of a favorite model, actress or singer. On the other hand, celebrities who promote healthy living can be a positive influence and encourage teens to live healthy, well-rounded lives.
Watching shows and movies can also influence teens in other ways. Some things that might be shown in the media that could affect a teen’s choices include:
- Drug use
- Alcohol use
- Sexual activity
In fact, a 1998 study on teens and alcohol consumption found that for every extra hour of TV that 9th graders watched during the week, there was a nine-percent increase in the risk of drinking alcohol over the course of the next 18 months.
Addictions and Obsessions
Watching movies, surfing the Internet, playing video games and getting hooked on an exciting TV show can be fun, but some teens take it too far. When media consumption becomes an obsession or addiction, this can pose a major problem. In some instances, teens may need professional intervention.
In addition to fictional forms of entertainment, teens are also frequently exposed to news media in various forms. In some cases, the news is sensationalized, which can make a teen anxious about crime and other problems in his or her community or around the world. The resulting stress and anxiety can even hamper school performance. Finding a reliable news source that reports the facts without trying to cause panic can help a teen keep up to date on what is going on in the world without being a source of extreme worry.
The solution to media influence on teens isn’t to ban every possible bad influence. You don’t have to give up your favorite show or stop going to the movies, playing video games or using the Internet. Instead, it is important to find a balance between responsible media viewing and other activities, such as sports, extracurricular activities and social events. By making the media a part of your life instead of its sole focus, you can stay out of trouble and achieve balance.