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Effect of Mass Media on ChildrenFeatured
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Mass media is a collective term that refers to all the media technologies whose sole intention is reaching a vast audience through mass communication. There are two major categories of mass media, which are, broadcast media and print media. Transmission of information by broadcast media is via electronic means while transmission of information by print media is via physical means. Broadcast media comprise of radio, film, CDs, television, and many more. Print media comprise of magazines, newspapers, newsletters, leaflets, books, pamphlets and brochures. “Effect” is a term that refers to something produced by a cause. It can also be referred to as a consequence. This research paper seeks to investigate both positive and negative effects of mass media on children. Possible solutions to address or mitigate the negative effects of mass media will also be highlighted.
Differential Effects of Mass Media on Children
The mass media, particularly, broadcast media, significantly affects childhood development in that, it provides information-seeking and modeling opportunities outside school and family. It has been estimated that the average American child watches more than 20, 000 television commercials annually. According to statistical data collected in the year 2000, children aged between the ages of two and five spent 40 hours watching television on a weekly basis. Those between six to eleven years spent 50 to 60 hours weekly watching television. These findings clearly show that mass media plays an essential life in shaping a child’s beliefs, behaviors and attitudes (Bento, 2004).
Among the key manifestation of the negative effects that media has on children is their declining lifestyle quality and changing mental set up. Instead of investing their time in studying, reading good books, engaging in social activities, and exercising, children choose to spend their evenings watching movies or glued to the television sets. With increasing technological advancement, the Internet can easily be accessed, even by small children. This exposes such children to things that they do not necessarily need to know and may not understand. The reading culture is gradually fading and substituted by mass media. This poses a negative effect on school performance as well as learning problems. Children are increasingly reporting low academic grades and problems in learning due to overindulgence in mass media (Matthew & Jesse, 2008)
Food advertising in broadcast media such as televisions has been linked to rising cases of childhood obesity. There is a strong relationship between an increase in non-nutritious food advertising and childhood obesity. It is extremely hard for children below the age of six to differentiate between advertising and programming. Those below the age of eight do not comprehend the fact that the main intention of advertising is to persuade the audience to purchase a given product. Therefore, non-nutritious or junk food advertising directed to children may turn out to be exploitative. A single commercial exposure can go a long way in influencing product references among children. Additionally, the remarkable ability of children to remember the content from various advertisements increases their likelihood to indulge in unhealthy eating habits such as over-consumption of unhealthy fast foods, which results to heightened rates of childhood obesity (Munni & Ram, 2010).
Body image problems and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa are also directly linked to mass media. This is especially the case with teenage girls. The mass media ads portray models with unrealistic images. More often than not, the models appear to have extremely thin waists and figures that are unattainable. In the attempt to...
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