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Television and its Impact on Teenagers - Essay Example

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The content of television programming has undergone a significant change in the last 50 years and its impact on teenagers has increased proportionally. Long gone are the days of Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet, as television viewers demand more edgy programming and controversial content…
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Television and its Impact on Teenagers
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Download file to see previous pages Television sells, and it not only sells advertising, it sells ideas. The teenage mind is at a stage where it is open to new ideas, experimentation, and is easily swayed by a sense of status through images. Teenagers, often alienated by their parents and the educational system, seek an identity and want to be a part of a reference or in-group. Teenagers will copy what they view on television and the media industry should be pro-active in monitoring all their programming, measuring its social impact, and assuring that it is fit for all viewers, and especially teenagers.
When we consider what a teenager may take from television and incorporate into their own life, sex immediately comes to mind. If the teenager feels disconnected from society, or neglected and unloved, they are in a prime position to seek out inappropriate sex. When television romanticizes sex between 13 year olds, the child will be led to believe that this action will bring them status and love. A study by Brown et al. found that regular viewing of sex on television, "accelerates white adolescents' sexual activity and increases their risk of engaging in early sexual intercourse" (1018). It would be irresponsible to encourage a young teenage girl to have sex in any other setting or format. Yet, it is routinely done on television. The industry must self-regulate the television programming and reduce the exposure that young teens have to sexual content.
Drugs are another subject that the media inappropriately presents to teenagers, which encourages them to experiment. Often, television portrays drugs in a positive light and fails to show the tragic consequences that accompany drug use. Teenagers learn which drugs are available, where to get them, and how to use them. Television has essentially become a drug education program. Studies have shown that there has been an increase in movies that portray drug use as a "relatively common and carefree behavior among teen characters in teen-centered films" (Stern 342). Teenagers copy this behavior while assuming they will have the same outcome as the characters in the film. In fact, the media industry could show drug use among teens in a more negative context with a more realistic outcome. This could lessen teenagers' misguided view of the consequences of using drugs.
Sex and drugs are activities that an average teenager may engage in with or without the encouragement of television, but violence is something that most teens intrinsically avoid. Yet, television programming has the power to desensitize a teenager's mind to violence and make it more acceptable. As teens view a barrage of violence against women, society, and acquaintances on television, they begin to view this as normal behavior. It is commonly accepted that violence, especially in children's television programming, has escalated in recent years, and the results have been disastrous. A large-scale and long-term study reported by Browne and Hamilton-Giachritsis found a close association between increased viewing of television violence and the "likelihood of subsequent antisocial behaviour, such as threatening aggression, assault or physical fights resulting in injury, and robbery" (703). While we may be able to get a teenager off drugs, or encourage them to curtail their sexual activity, violent tendencies are deeply ingrained into the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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