Does mass media influence children and teenagers more than their friends and family? That’s the question mainstream America is asking. America’s youth today is faced with an issue that adolescents in past decades never experienced. Young people today are flooded with media such as television, music, movies, magazines, newspapers, internet, and more. Media is overly accessible and virtually impossible to hide from in a world now dependent on it. The main concern that always comes up in the discussion of mass media is its many negative impacts on children and teens in American society. Mass media is a dominant force in the United States and across the world that shapes and molds young people in a variety of ways, creating ideas and theories that hold huge influence in the perceptions and actions of these adolescents. Many times these perceptions and ideals shown through mass media are very harmful to the development of children and teenagers in the United States. Mass media in the United States lacks government intervention and regulation. One of the reasons that there may not be strict enough rules for mass media could be that most broadcast companies in the United States are privately owned. These private companies receive no government funding. For example, public radio and public television are funded and controlled by government. Therefore, the government holds little leverage in telling these corporations what to do.
Mass media’s effect in regards to violent behavior shows why the government regulation of mass media needs to be stricter than they currently are. The watching of violence is a very popular form of entertainment in mainstream America. A crowd of pedestrians enjoy a street fight just as the Greek enjoyed watching Spartans battle in the arena. Boxing and Wrestling are one of the most popular spectator sports on television in the United States and around the world. Violence is the most frequently depicted genre in television and movies. News programs provide extensive coverage of violent crimes just to bump up their ratings. Another way these kids are viewing this violence is through their videogames. Videogames such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are among the most popular videogame titles on the market. According to CNN Grand Theft Auto sold 3.6 million copies and generated $310 million dollars in sales in its first day. The more violent the videogames are, the more copies they sell.
Just imagine how different things might be in a world without children playing violent videogames or watching gory movies nearly every day. In a research study reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health the results reported were that on 23 channels recorded more than half of the material was filled with violence (Brown and Witherspoon 2002). Many of these television shows that contain violent material depict unrealistic effects. For example, there could be an extremely horrific gun shooting or stabbing in a movie and the character lives. However, the reality is that a gun shooting or a stabbing will most likely result in death. One common example of violent behavior being glorified through television and movies is bank robberies. These movies make robbing banks seem appealing because of the ease in which they take the money while underplaying the consequences that go along with a serious crime such as this. Many parents observe their children and teenagers copying behaviors that they have picked up in films and TV shows. It is quite apparent that this process leads to a greater frequency of violence.
Mass media’s influence on sexuality is another controversial topic. Media is one way America’s youth learn and see sexual behavior. “Adolescence is the stage when individuals develop independent identities by disengaging from their parents and interacting more extensively with their peers” (Paek et al. 2011). Considering that at this stage adolescents are not guided by...