Media and Youth

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look at the world media landscape for children and youth immediately presents two opposing themes: opportunities and risks. For example, globalization of media brings opportunities to broaden children’s outlooks and provide more equal access to information, but it also threatens cultural identification and values. Technological advances bring the promise of new skills and greater youth participation in society, but also increase the risk of child exploitation and informational divides. There is an urgent need for societies to both protect youth and empower them to shape their own media environments, as spelled out by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and increasingly by media experts and educators around the globe. This overview of trends and issues concerning young people and the media is based on a broad review of existing print and electronic sources, interviews with child media experts from different regions, and analysis of InterMedia’s surveys in transitional and developing countries. The trends and issues highlighted here—from young people’s media options and behavior, to the quality and influence of media aimed at them—all point to the need for more effective use of the vast positive potential of mass media and new technologies to advocate for, and enrich the lives of, children and young people worldwide.

Children/Young People & Media in the World Today
Approximately one-third of the world’s population is made up of 2 billion young people under 18. They make up half the population in the least developed nations; less than a quarter in the most industrialized ones. Their challenges range from basic survival to discrimination and exploitation. Moreover, there are myriad differences in cultures, traditions and values. Nevertheless, children and youth everywhere share some universal traits. They are fundamentally more optimistic, more open and curious than their adult counterparts. Increasingly, children are enjoying unprecedented freedoms in many countries. Unfortunately, others confront growing health and social problems, ranging from deepening poverty and ethnic strife to substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases, political turmoil and warfare. Arguably, the proliferation and globalization of media are among the key factors that have shaped and defined the current generation of young people.

In many countries, youth have access to a greater
number of multi-media choices than ever before—
conventional, satellite and cable TV channels; radio
stations; newspapers and magazines; the internet
and computer and video games. In addition, many
are exposed to the same programs, the same characters and the same marketed spin-off products. Today there is greater availability of foreign programming and media, and less official censorship and control in many parts of the world. Information,

email and images flow around the world faster and
more freely than ever. Indeed, mass media are
making the world smaller, and
culture and media are increasingly inextricable, especially for young people. "How Do You View The Coming Year?" (% who view with hope)
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Belarus Russia Georgia Cambodia Laos Albania Serbia Croat ia India Bangladesh Young People (15-24)
Adults (25+)
InterMedia Surveys 2002-3Children’s/Young People’s Use of the Media Television
Television is the dominant medium for young people—and adults—around the world. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the number of television channels, household television sets and hours spent watching television more than doubled. There are now approximately 250 television sets per thousand inhabitants in the world—far more than the number of telephones. Satellite television reaches all continents, offering increasing numbers of channels targeting specific market segments, including young viewers. In the late 1990s, some 50 television channels directed specifically to children were launched,...
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