Media Exposure and Its Influence on Adolescents
One of the most critical and vulnerable stages of human development is adolescence. This period is true for any boy or girl and, factually, is the most susceptible to changes, broadly affecting the psychological level of the human being (Craig & Baucum, 2001). In the modern culture, both audio and visual media exercise a great amount of influence on the mind of the adolescent. Earlier, video games alone were considered a potential threat for the rapidly altering mind of an adolescent. At present, however, media encompassing both print and television play a significantly negative role in deteriorating adolescents’ minds.
Formerly, young developing minds changing rapidly were victimized by violent games on the gadgets. Now, this role is shared by films, advertisements and miscellaneous television programmes showing extreme cruelty and dangerous life-threatening activities of various types, exposing female body as a commodity, as well as making emphasis on sexual content. All these features and many others are continuously broadcasted on hoarding, television, and radio commercials, and are heavily misguiding the minds of adolescents to potentially disturbing realities.
Though, the topic under consideration cannot be called proven as it is still under debate. The literature describing the aforementioned subject does not fully establish a viable link between media and the adolescent behavior. However, one cannot deny the potentially negative impact made upon us. Little children are seen to be imitating dangerous stunts and various adult behaviors which are televised daily. Furthermore, these incidents and their life-threatening consequences are also reported by the media itself.
In regard to psychological development, one cannot ignore the contribution of Bandura and Walters (1963), psychologists who were specialist in social studies. According to them, media will be considered as the third viable source of influence on the adolescent mind, in succession to family and society. In fact, “the process of acquisition can be considerably shortened by the provision of social models” (Bandura & Walters, 1963, p. 3) compared to these observations instead of watching or learning about a certain behavior. In connection to Bandura & Walters’ (1963) social learning theory, learning through observation or modeling gives us enough evidence with the help of listening and watching other people around. In this case, memory acts as a storage device which captures all actions and ideas other people performing on a daily basis.
Role models prevail in all kinds of cultures, and it is through these role models that adults, adolescents, and youngsters learn various behavioral patterns (Bandura & Walters, 1963). In most cultures, the bulk of adult behaviors is imitated, and this fact has no clear and justifiable explanation. In Western cultures, parents are susceptible to providing their children with gender-based toys which are miniatures of actual appliances used by adults. These children grow up with such toys and acquire adult behaviors easily (Bandura & Walters, 1963).
Evidently, physical images portrayed on television, especially in advertisements, are merely an endeavor to reign over the adolescents’ minds. The media constantly display various idealistic images for a perfect body which have extreme pressure over the lives of adolescents or their expectations about different ways of life. This fact proves that young people have a lot of pressure in their lives.
So, the idea of being perceived by someone as likable is depicted in various literary sources. However, what matters the most is how the teens and adolescents determine this concept and try to change themselves to be acceptable in the modern society, and especially by their peers (Wentzel & McNamara, 1999). No doubt, media awareness is the only means that can keep these young minds from being permeated to be someone that they are not; all because something or someone on television screens makes them think that they are acceptable the way they are.
Bandura, A. & Walters, R. H. (1963). Social learning and personality development. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Craig, G. J. & Baucum, D. (2001). Human Development (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Wentzel, K. R. & McNamara, C. C. (1999). Interpersonal relationships, emotional distress, and pro-social behavior in middle school. Journal of Early Adolescence , 19 (1), 114-125.
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