Saturday, April 7, 2012

Media influence on teens

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Media influence on teens

Since the Columbine shooting and several other massacres, when teens imitate others, I’ve often thought about the reason why teens behave like that. Is it media, society or does it come from the parents as role models? What leads them to such a behavior? I believe that media influences teenage behavior in a bad way by introducing them to different aggressive behaviors. As a victim of violence, I would appreciate to find out why the person decided to harm others or me.

I also think that it is really important to know if media influences our teens because we are facing many problems with sexual behaviors, such as becoming pregnant earlier, having sex earlier, and not using precautions. Suppose your son or daughter had been killed in the Columbine shooting in 1 and a lot of teens imitate the killers after that. What would you think? I think that this behavior is awful. Eric Nuzman, the author of “Parental Advisory”, pointed out that the Columbine killers, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, were said to be fans of the game Doom and the rock star Marilyn Manson. This is just one of several evidences that media (music, TV, radio etc.) influences teenagers in their behavior.

The National Television Violence study, issued by Mediascope in February 16, showed that homicide rates are doubling within the ten to fifteen years after the introduction of television. The Surgeon General’s office indicates that “exposure to media violence increases children’s physically and verbally aggressive behavior in the short term”. A group of researchers supported by the Kaiser Family Foundation investigated how explicit the sexual content in media is and gave detailed report. A composite sampling design was used, and ten channels were coded, including several different varieties such as primetime and HBO. Programs were coded for “talk about sex” and “sexually related behaviors depicted” and were rated on severity scale. The researchers found that overall, sexual content whether talk about sex or actual behaviors, appeared in 56% of programs. Specifically, 54% of programs included talk about sex. And % of programs included sexually related behaviors. In addition, only seven of seventy programs that either implied or depicted actual sexual intercourse included any mention of sexual risks or responsibilities.

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But one out of four teens (%) say they have learned “a lot” about pregnancy and birth control from TV shows and movies. In addition four out of ten teens (40%) say they have gotten ideas for how to talk to their boyfriend or girlfriend about sexual issues from these sources. The Center for Population Options thinks that media influences teens, but not in a bad way.

The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence indicates that young children “do not process” information in the same way as adults. They also don’t have the experience and judgment to evaluate what they see. For example, children between the ages of six and ten may believe that the majority of what they see on TV is true. Since they watch a lot of TV, this makes them “particularly vulnerable” to negative effects of television. 54% of U.S. children have a television set in their bedrooms and spend approximately twenty-eight hours a week watching TV. In another study, students who were shown programs containing basic sex information about menstruation and reproduction knew more factual information than students who were not shown the videos.

The National Clearinghouse in Family Violence states that children begin to react to TV very early. Children will willingly watch a show designed for them and will imitate someone on television as readily as they will imitate a live person. Have you ever seen a three-year-old imitating someone from Sesame Street? Probably yes because that is normal.

Hearold, S. 186 shows that there is strong evidence that children’s shows that were developed to teach academic and social skills can help children to learn effectively. The Center for Population Options says, that sexuality in media does not only show sexual intercourse, it also includes suggestive behaviors, information about sex roles, family life, physical attractiveness, friendship, parents-child communication, pregnancy and childbearing. Also, a study in 181 from the Center for Population Options shows that there is no link between the amount of TV teen’s watch and the likelihood that they would have intercourse.

Children not only learn from what they see on TV; they learn from what is omitted. Heavy viewers of sexual content may also believe that the frequency of sexual behavior in the real world mirrors that seen on TV. Social learning theory predicts that young people learn from role models that are rewarded for particular behavior. If characters on TV are seen as gaining social status as a result of sexual behavior, young viewers may think that engaging in sexual behavior will increase their own popularity.

By watching aggression children learn how to be aggressive in new ways, and they also draw conclusions about whether being aggressive to others will bring them rewards (Huesmann and Eron, 186). It leads children to accept more aggressive behavior in others (Drabman and Thomas, 174). Those children who see TV characters getting what they want by hitting are more likely “to strike out themselves” in imitation. Even if the TV character has so-called good reasons for acting violently (police catching a criminal to protect others), that does not make young children less likely to imitate the act. (Reinhart and Fredrikson, 18)

There are other factors in a child’s lifes that influence a teen more than TV. For example, how his or her parents behave. If parents ignore or approve of their child’s aggressive behavior or if they lose control too easily themselves, a TV control plan will not help. Also, if parents themselves exhibit violent behavior, they serve as role models for their children.

Copycat behavior gets more and more common in the United States. In the MTV show “Jackass” a person performs dangerous stunts. A thirteen-year-old boy from Connecticut was burned after he imitated one of those stunts, where the host, Johnny Knoxville, laid on a grill. In addition, one thirteen-year-old boy explained his interest in sex. He said that “his interest in sex began in the third grade, watching “Beverly Hills 010”. He said that he “was interested, the people were cool. I wanted to try what they were doing on the show.”

I think that more responsibility needs to be shown on TV. We cant just think because our movies and shows are rated that nobody under the certain age is going to watch it. There are many young children out there that dont know whats right or wrong. We need to show them the reality. Children under a certain age aren’t capable of making the right decisions, so we have to help them. Our society is already too violent. Many teens have to be anxious about their lifes by just going to school. But how can that be? Is that what the government wants? Probably not, nobody has the intention to frighten teenagers, but they do. I don’t think that teenagers realize that media has a bad influence on them, but it does. You can see on several examples I mentioned earlier that media influenced teens, not only in violent behavior but also in sexual behavior. More and more teens are having sex earlier and getting pregnant. I think we have to be responsible, and I also think that Hollywood has to change their movies. Of course, everybody is excited as soon as a new movie comes out, but in the majority of the movies they talk about violence or sex. I think that the parents have to take care of their children too. They have to be there for their children to explain to them the confusing parts, but we can’t expect parents to do that. Our society changed, and they usually go to work the whole day, so they can’t take responsibility for everything. Media influences teens, and we have to change it.

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