It is fashionable to blame the media for everything that ails society today. But is media really so evil?
Media today has a huge influence on teenagers. Be it television, computers, video games, social networking sites – it hugely impacts all aspects of a teen’s life. But all is not bad with the media. If used right, media can change lives for good. This post highlights both positive and negative influences of media on teenagers.
Positive Influence Of Media On Teenagers:
Before you decide to pull the plug, check out how media can impact your teen – in a good way!
1. Help Develop Awareness:
Most teens live a sheltered life. But with exposure to various media outlets, they can develop awareness about society and the world. This cultural and political awareness is vital if we want to groom a generation of socially responsible citizens. With news channels, magazines, social networking sites blaring about world happenings, teens can realize that there is more to the world
[ Read: Emotional Development In Adolescence ]
2. Help Develop Social Skills:
Many teens are socially awkward. Media gives them the chance to groom their social skills. It also gives them the chance to expand their social circle and develop new friendships.
3. Inspire Them:
When your teen watches an action flick, don’t just despair about the violence. With a little guidance, they can use the movie as inspiration! Maybe your teen will decide to take up martial arts training, all thanks to a Bruce Lee movie! Teenagers look up to celebrities, and when a celebrity tells them to stay off drugs, they just might listen.
4. Help Fine Tune Motor Skills:
Video games draw a lot of flak these days. But there’s some good in video games too! There are a few video games that can help teens develop and fine-tune their motor skills and coordination.
[ Read: Aggression In Adolescence ]
5. Help Develop Reading And Writing Skills:
When a celebrity talks of her favorite book, your teenager might be tempted to grab a book too. Not just that, if your teenager wants to be a part of blogs, chat rooms, etc., she’ll need to improve her reading and writing skills.
But these benefits cannot sugar-coat the negatives that come with media. There is some truth in what people say today.
Negative Influences Of Media On Teenagers:
We seem to be drowning in information. But for teenagers, this information overload can be the cause for serious concern. Check out here the negative influence of media on teenagers:
1. Distorted Body Image:
The world is full of perfect people today. With perfect skin, body, and hair – that’s what it appears like to the young today. Thanks to Photoshop, the standard of beauty has become impossible to achieve. And these images are everywhere. This has led to distorted body image among a number of teenagers. Anorexia and bulimia are a fall out of this body image crisis. And this is not limited just to the girls. Even boys are made to feel ‘less’ manly unless they fit the image popularized by media.
[ Read: Stress In Adolescence ]
2. Making Violence Normal:
The amount of violence in video games and movies today is scary. And teenagers spend several hours every day watching these scenes of gore. Violence becomes their reality. Many teenagers are unable to distinguish between reality and fantasy. This makes violence ‘normal’ for them. The number of school shootings in USA is an indication of this very fact.
3. Risky Sexual Behavior:
Teenagers are just discovering their sexuality. It is very normal for them to be interested in everything sexual. But the amount of sex in media today can make a teenager confused. Sex without responsibility – that seems to be the message being beamed at teenagers. This can lead to irresponsible sexual behavior and unwanted pregnancies.
[ Read: Anxiety Disorders In Teenagers ]
4. Making Everything Commercial:
Happiness comes at a price. At least that’s the message teenagers get through media. Their life would be perfect if only you’d buy them that hot new game, that happening dress. Advertisers target teenagers to ramp up their revenues. But teenagers fall prey to the idea of commercialization of happiness.
Chances are your teen today spends most of her time in front of the TV or computer. Playing outside has become a rarity. Add to that bad eating habits, and you have an obesity epidemic at hand.
The media today is powerful and omnipresent. You just can’t escape its tentacles. And you don’t need to! Remember, media is just a tool and like any other tool, how you use it depends on you.
[ Read: Teenage Behavioural Problems ]
Tips For Parents:
You as a parent have the responsibility to help your teen make the right choices. Here are a few tips to make media a positive influence in your teen’s life:
- Sit down as a family and discuss the pros and cons of media. Encourage your teen to express her feelings about various programs and media outlets.
- Help your teen differentiate between reality and fantasy.
- Try to keep TVs, video games, etc. out of your teen’s bedroom.
- Use parental control. Block channels and websites you think are inappropriate for your teen. But make sure to tell your teenager why exactly you have blocked these media outlets.
- Limit TV viewing to 2-3 hours every day. Try to spend time together as a family doing other activities.
[ Read: Cutting Behavior In Teenagers ]
These are just few tips on the influence of media on teenagers that can help your family. Each family is different. So you need to take a call on media discipline that works for your family. But don’t make media a scapegoat. Media will exist, whether we like it or not. What we can do as parents is take the good it has to offer while avoiding the ugly.
How do you maintain parental control over your teenagers influenced by media? Share your tips with us in the comments section below.
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