INFLUENCE OF MEDIA Before the late 19th century, there was only the printed word to convey information to the masses. Since then, the world has seen the invention of radio, television, and most recently the Internet. One of the most powerful means of communicating ideas is through the use of mass media. The mass media has become an extremely persuasive industry, especially with children and adolescents.
Children and adolescents can be very influenced by what someone says to them, or what they see. The Committee on Public Education reported last year that young people spend more time in front of the television than they do in school or with their parents. Mass media has a negative influence over pre-adolescents and adolescents because it creates distorded self image, encourages violence, contains very explicit sexual content and also promotes the use of drugs. Mass media had always had a greater impact over the thoughts and beliefs of women than those of men ("Body Image and Advertising, pg 1). It has always played a very important role in a women's every day life. Women, especially adolescents and pre-adolescents because of how easily they can be influenced, have always had a lot of preoccupations with their outside image, and consequently, they are extremely concerned about the way they are seen by others.
Since mass media exists, the images of women that are presented in it play a larger role in the formation of women's body images rather than the opinion of friends or family. Women that are presented in media show extremely thin models, which can promote such eating disorders as bulimia and anorexia nervosa (refer to appendix images 1, 2 and 3). Mass media provides to its audiences an unrealistic and often unhealthy image of the beauty of the women. All of this women become concerned about their outside appearance trying to imitate the beauty of women that they see or read about in the mass media. A big subject will be the teenagers who try o become models or actress. Catherine Stevenson, who is a seventeen year old girl, who is starting to become part of the modeling job, says "I've seen lost of anorexia girls been ask to loose more weight because if not they will kick them out of the company".
She also comments that all of these girls will do anything to become their dream true. This obsession, of trying to be like women seen on TV or magazines, can lead to eating disorders. Eating disroders develop as outward signs of inside emotional problems. They can develop into a way that people deal with and solve their problems. Eating or not eai tng is used to help to handle painful feelings such as being unsatisfied with your body. The link between mass media and suffering any kind of eating disorder problem its becoming more powerful every day that passes.
The influence of media in the spreading of eating disorders cannot be denied. Since childhood women is been attack with images and messages reinforcing the idea of: to be happy and succesful it is necessary to be thin. Often, adolescents feel bad and depress if their bodies, including weight, hips and breasts, do not match with the model that the TV is showing in that instant, or with the singer that is being shown in the article on the magazine that they read two minutes ago. As a university professor called Prof. Michelle Wolf says in his article called SF State researchers release study about women, the mass media, and the development of body image: "People are dying from anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders while trying to attain some ideal body image that is initially created by a family and peer group dynamic and is then reinforced by a consumer culture that is driven by narrowly-defined images of beauty... ". (pg 1) Although distorded body image has always been known to have a major affect on women and girls, in the last ten years the pressure on boys to appear muscular has also gown. Many males are becoming extremely insecure with their body appearance as media increases the emission of standard and idealize well-built men. These images had generate a variety of responses from teenage boys, some turn to the use of anabolic steroids, others increase their dietary suplaments like Creatine and most of them get obsessed with excessive weigh training.
A survey conducted last year found that steroid use among boys ages twelve to seventeen increased by twenty five percent from 1999 to 2000 ("Steroid Use Growing Among Young Boys", pg 1). A teen psychologist Dr. Meredith Branson in the article Striving For the Baywatch Boy Build page 13 says "I've seen boys becoming addicted to exercise. Some guys exercise as much as four hours a day. These people say they are not addicted, but when they try to exercise for only three hours, they have problems... ".
Anorexia, bulimia, the excessive use of steroids, the obsession with dietary suplaments and the addiction to exercise in adolescents are all very serious problems mainly caused by the stereotyped images shown in TV, the continuous articles in the magazines about 'the perfect body' and by the pressure that media implements over young society. Another of the problems that the adolescent society has to deal with is violence in media. Young minds had been exposed to violent films and TV programs over the past thirty years. In the same period of time, violent crime between adolescents also increased significantly. It is difficult to belive that simply viewing a movie, or listening to a song can be so damaging to children. But there is a lot of evidence and real cases that show how dangerous movies and songs can be.
This was the case of a high school student of a small town on Germany who got obsessed with a video game, and after playing it for several hours, the next day he kill lots of students and teachers in his class ("The mass media" pg 124). The National Committee on the causes and prevention of violence reported in 1969 that violence in the media had a negative effect on children and on adolescents. Violent movies or TV shows encourage violent forms of behavior and promotes violence in daily life as being an acceptable thing. Violence in movies should have strict regulation because it has negative effects on the behavior on a children. The formation of gangs is also a negative result that mass media promotes.
Gangs get into the lives of young people through the media. A recent study indicates that from 1985 to 1991, the annual rates at which young men aged 15 to 19 years old were killed jumped 154 percent. The entire increase was attributed to the use of guns in gang situations ("Gangs: the new family", pg 1). Movies or videos which show gang members enjoying the 'fruits " of their ilegal activities can suggest in some minds of childrens and adolescents a way to reach the goal that all people of that age are looking for, success; and the way that sucess is earned in those movies or videos is usually by the use of violence. Sometimes these movies go too much into detail in showing very explicit things.
Also the fact that this gangs are almost never caught after commiting and endless list of ilegal actions influence children into believing that they as well will not receive any negative consequences for their actions. The negative perceptions that women has in media can affect to women in real life because of the continuous promoting of violence over women. Women are often presented as victims of violence, or as sexual objects in media, this can contribute in the way that women can be seen in real society. Men who had watch a number of films in which women are presented in sexually degrading or violent situations become increasingly less anguished by violence against women ("Violence, women and the media", pg 1). Not only tv or movies are influencial, other media like songs or music videos or video or computer games de gradate women in thier emissions.
Songs like Stripped, Raped and Strangled by Cannibal Corpse and Smack My Bitch Up by Prodigy are usually top ten songs among teens. As aforementioned computer games also affect in the role of women in society. According to sociologists, games such as Tomb Raider encourage sexism and condition adolescents to view the world as they do the in their computer screen. A relationship between aggression and children's viewing of mass media violence exists.
Media violence stimulates aggression. Media violence should be restricted and limmitated because of the infinity of harmful effects that has over pre adolescents and adolsecents. On the same way that practicing violence is a problem, early sexual intercourse among adolescent is also a public health problem. This can be caused by a long variety of factors, but one of the major factors that cause it is the media.
In films, music, or other kind of media sexual images and dialogues among others are becoming very explicit. In addition to this, some of those images or dialogues are unrealistic, mistaken and confusing information that an adolescent or a child can take it as a fact, and accept it as a real thing. Most of the teenagers take TV programs, movies and magazines as reputable sources of information about sexuality. Usually, and rarely happens, the movies never promote the use of contraceptives or show the consequences that can cause the lack of using it. Another fact that can be very influencial is that in TV usually the people who are having sex are characters of ages between eighteen and twenty four, and sometimes less than eighteen ("Media literacy: and middle grade students: a rationale". pg 1). Sex on TV can have other harmful consequences like the dissatisfaction with virginity, the premature birth and even it has been associated with the lower of the academic records and scores.
On the other hand, media also promotes the use of alcohol tabaco and other i licit drugs like LSD. Lots of movies describe or represent in a very explicit way drugs, and usually not because they were advertising about the consequences of them, but because they were using them as a way of solving problems, or mostly as a way of having fun. Movies and song are the two major types of media that influence over the use of drugs. The use of drugs in movies and songs is countiniously (refered to appendix figure 1), more often in movies than in songs (referred to appendix figure 2) but still popular songs are very influencial. The use of drugs in them is usually commited by very young people (refered to appendix figure 3) and this can be misunderstood by adolescents.
In addition to this the reference to drugs in movies and songs is used as a way of avoidance of troubles and worries, this could seriously motivate adolescents to use drugs as a solution to their problems. The use of drugs in movies or songs, or any kind of media sould be restricted because it encourages adolescents to use them. Mass media has a negative influence over pre-adolescents and adolescents because it creates distorted self image, encourages violence, contains very explicit sexual content and also promotes the use of drugs. Beacuse all of this factors that were aforementioned there should be an increase in the number of educational programs and a restriction of harmful emissions..