The Effects of Media on Teenagers
Should teens be limited to the amount of technology that’s exposed? We’ve all been or are going to be a teenager. There is no way to avoid it. Leisure has changed over time. The definition of leisure to any adult would be playing with friends in the street, doing some homework or maybe even working at a job. Today, it consists of texting on iPhones/blackberries, watching T.V or going on social networks. It seems today that any teenager would agree that they can’t live without one thing: technology. The existence and power of media influences are strongly recognized as a significant part of the ecology of the young generation. The media has become an inseparable part of the life of teenagers. Mark Bauerlein claims, “Children between the ages of 13 and 17 who have a mobile phone average 1,742 text messages each month, according to a report by the Nielsen Company in September 2008. That comes to nearly 60 per day. They also make 231 voice calls each month, close to eight per day.” (34) Considering the current influences, the media plays an important role in forming opinions and dictating the actions of the youth culture. The mass media has tremendously affected people’s lifestyle, living patterns, and socialization. Although many people in today’s society could be affected both negatively and positively, teenagers are more inclined to be influenced by the media and hence, receive the greatest impact. The positive influences of the media might not be talked about often, but positive effects do exist. However, the negative influences of the media are more visible due to the consistency used to elaborate its negativity into people’s minds. One of the influences that cause negativity is the excessive amount of violence being brought by the media. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable because they are new and inexperienced consumers and are the prime targets of many advertisements. They are in the process of learning their values and roles and developing their self-concepts. Most teenagers are sensitive to peer pressure and find it difficult to resist. According to Bauerlein, “If you don’t own a cellphone, if you can’t text, game, network and chat, then you are out of the loop. It is like not being picked to play kickball back in the primitive days of the neighborhood sandlot gatherings” (34). I totally agree with his statement, mass communication has made possible a kind of national peer pressure that erodes private and individual values and standards. However, as cliché as it may sound, the mass media also has a few positive influences on the young generation. While focusing on the affirmative outcomes of the media, one could say that the wide variety of technology has played a big role in today’s society. Modern-day technology advancements are continually seen throughout every aspect of life: cell phones, laptops, iPods, and portable Internet availability. Modern technology has the capability to enhance social abilities of today’s young generation; therefore, teenagers have learned to embrace technology for different purposes. For instance, television, radio, and Internet have helped teenagers find important information in a more reachable method. Media aids the greatest way for an immediate spread of news. The speed that technology has reached is helpful in times of catastrophes when media is used for broadcasting events that need immediate attention. The increase in overall awareness of teens about the environment is another attribute provided by the media. One can gain a lot of helpful information about current and historical events that are happening worldwide. One of my points why I don’t agree with Mark Brauerlein is that internet access provides some of the most effective means of communication. It offers many positive opportunities for teens. The positive influence of the Internet has caused a drastic change in the way every individual communicates. E-mails, instant messages, social networking, and blogging websites have made communication as easy as possible. Through these, people from all over the world are able to interact in a more relaxed way. Teens are also able to chat with loved ones who are in other parts of the world through instant messaging. Social networking websites, like Facebook, are also a helpful method in reuniting or staying in-touch with close friends and families. With the help of these services, the means of communication has become very easy for every individual. Another popular way to communicate is through cell phone usage. Cell phones are a great invention and allow every individual to stay in touch. However, the young generation’s usage of cell phones can have both positive and negative effects. Therefore, adults should be aware and monitor teens on how they make use of cell phones. Providing security for teens and parents who worry about them is one of the most important features of having cell phones. Parents can easily check in with their teenagers. In addition, when it comes to emergencies, cell phones are the first device people reach out for. Cell phone usage of teenagers however, can become an attachment: “When they lose them, kids feel excluded and unpopular, and nothing hits a 16-year-old harder than the disregard of other 16-year-old” (35). Today, teens have the tendency to follow trends and demand in cell phones in its latest model, which may cause a problem between teens and parents. Another negative impact on cell phone usage is the distraction it causes, especially when driving. Teenagers are able to get their license at the age of 15 years old, and mobile devices are definitely a hazard for new or experienced drivers. Parents need to consider certain points when deciding which cell phone to purchase for their teens. Some of the things that parents need to consider are the prices of mobile phones, its features, and network service providers. Although there are technology devices that deliver positive means of communications, there are more helpful ways for teens to make use of them. Bauerlein, believes that: “As they give in online, teenagers’ peer consciousness expands while their historical understanding, civic awareness and taste go dormant before they have even had much chance to develop” (36). I do agree with Mark Bauerlein point, but it feels like he dramatizes the situation. The wide variety of information available to young people has become a positive approach since past generation did not have the same technologies that are available for everyone today. Any kind of information or topic is accessible through the Internet. Educational websites that provides information on variety of topics such as Wikipedia have advanced in popularity among teenagers. Search engines like Google is another popular website that is helpful to young people. One can find almost any type of data on any subject, and as a result became a helpful resource for teenagers who attend school. Most students are given assignments that require research on the Internet, and the wide range of resources available to society has become as easy as one-click away. The Internet is an incredible resource for information, communication, and entertainment. However the Internet also has its disadvantages. During the adolescent years, teenagers are more vulnerable. As a result, the Internet may cause a negative impact on most teens because Internet usage can be addicting. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have led into a new age of teenage Internet addiction. Although the Internet is an exciting and helpful way in gathering information and communicating with people, parents must be aware of their teens Internet usage levels. In conclusion, the influence of mass media on teenagers varies between the positive and negative impact it causes. A world without mass media would result in a drastic change in the way adolescents live because every individual is exposed to some type of media every day. It is clear that teenagers are still vulnerable therefore they are more affected by the outcomes of mass media.
Bauerlen, Mark. “Generation Text” Brief Guide to writing from Reading. Ed Stephen Wilhoit. Boston. Pearson, 2012. 34-36 Print.