By: Jamie B
Over the last few decade’s social media/ media has been surfacing more and more each year and the effect it plays on youth is becoming even greater. Media and social media are how the majority of youth and children get influenced and motivated in today’s modern age. I find the biggest form of media influence on youth is through television. The amount of television that children watch today is outrageous and it eliminates a youth’s drive to be active and creative. This is also where most youth and children will discover their role models and receive their influences. So we find ourselves asking, what influences and messages are the majority of youth receiving?
According to the article “Impact of media- Are we over stimulating young children?” (Price-Mitchell, 2012), “In 1970, the average age at which children watched television was four years old. Today, the average age is four months. The typical child before the age of five is watching 4 ½ hours of television per day, 40% of their waking hours!” This is absolutely ridiculous. If children are starting to watch television at this young of age and this excessively, then just imagine how things will be when they are trying to develop as a youth and then onto an adult. In his article “Media and youth: Access, exposure, and privatization”, which is based on studies of youth engagement with media, Roberts (2000) states that, “American youth devote more time to media than to any other waking activity, as much as one-third of each day. This demands increased parental attention and research into the effects of such extensive exposure”. This should be an eye opener to parents of these youth.
This brings me to influences and role models that youth receive through consuming different forms of media like television, social networks like Facebook and twitter, and even through music. We have all heard about numerous Hollywood scandals that are just plastered all over every form of social media like Miley Cyrus’ twerking incident or Tiger Wood’s affairs for instance. If youth are using these forms of social media excessively and these people involved with these situations just so happen to be a role model or an influence to that youth, the messages that youth are receiving are obviously negative and are inconsistent with the positive values and social norms that are associated with positive youth development.
Another type of influence through social media that I think should be focused on most is violent influences and violent role models through media and sport. These, to me, are by far the worst influences and role models a youth could have. According to an Anderson et al.’s (2003) article “media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts”. Research has demonstrated that if one engages in watching violent television shows or movies, or playing violent video games, they are more likely to engage in aggressive or violent acts in real life. I believe that it is necessary and beneficial for youth and children to have positive role models to look up to. This is how some youth develop some of their positive characteristics through watching their favorite athlete on the television. Whether an athlete demonstrates good sportsmanship or by being a good teammate.
I feel that even though social media has so many negative effects and outcomes, there are still some benefits that can be received by watching certain shows (in moderation). For example, television can be educational and stimulating the brain of a youth.
For more information:
Anderson, C. A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L. R., Johnson, J. D., Linz, D., … & Wartella, E. (2003). The influence of media violence on youth. Psychological science in the public interest, 4(3), 81-110.
Price-Mitchell, Marilyn. (2011). Impact of Media: Are We Over-Stimulating Young Children. http://www.rootsofaction.com/are-we-over-stimulating-young-children-dimitri-christakis/
Roberts, D. F. (2000). Media and youth: Access, exposure, and privatization. Journal of adolescent health, 27(2), 8-14.