The influence of the media on the psychosocial development of children is profound.Thus, it is important for physicians to discuss with parents their child’s exposure to media and to provide guidance on age-appropriate use of all media, including television, radio, music, video games and the Internet.
Media influence on teenagers can be deliberate – for example, advertising is often directed at children and teenagers. This means that children and teenagers are increasingly conscious of brands and images. You’re not alone if your child has pestered you to buy the next ‘in’ thing!But being exposed to media influence, images and messages doesn’t automatically mean your child is at risk. Teenagers don’t just take on board everything the media – or anybody else – tells them. They can be savvy consumers of media messages.
Media influence and violence
Seeing violent media content often enough can make it more likely that someone will behave in an aggressive or violent way, be less understanding of other people’s needs and feelings, or feel more afraid of their environment.
How media celebrities influence teenagers
Celebrities often get into the media for bad behaviour. But celebrity role models aren’t always bad influences.
Media influence can be powerful if a celebrity role model says a particular lifestyle, product or behaviour is good. There are lots of examples of celebrities whose lifestyles, values and behaviour provide positive examples.
Teenagers are in that stage of growing up where everything around them influences them. The way they talk, dress and act depends a lot on what they are exposed to. For example, if a teenager sees his or her favourite celebrity endorsing a product which may or may not be necessary, he or she may want to buy it regardless of how useful the product is. This is a strategy many big businesses use to their advantage as they can easily sell products, even if they are of bad quality.
Since media has the ability to manipulate people’s mind and attitudes, it also influences gender stereotypes. Advertising, news industries and entertainment, usually portray men and women with stereotypes, in which women and girls are likely to be placed in disadvantaged situations, for example passive and submissive roles. This happens a lot in third world countries e.g. Pakistan. Several TV shows and commercials show women usually playing the role of a housewife while men are shown to be more career-oriented, focusing on their occupations. As a consequence, traditional gender roles and power relations have been deeply imputed in people’s sub-consciousness through the mass media which limits the development of human personalities as well as social equality.
In the domain of social networking, this entails parents becoming educated about the advantages and disadvantages of social networking and themselves joining social network sites, not to hover, but to be aware of the activities of their teenage wards. It is essential that parents are aware of and monitor privacy settings and online profiles of their wards. Open discussions about social network protocols and etiquettes would go a long way in establishing global digital citizenship and healthy behavior.