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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Essay on Impact of Mass Media on Teenage Life

Mass media refers to the tools used to transfer and transmit information, concepts and ideas to general and specific audiences.  Presently, among the most powerful mass media tools that are being used to transfer, convey and transmit information are televisions, movies, internet, books, newspapers, magazines, and radio.  Because it has the capacity to reach out to millions of people at the same time, the mass media today has been considered very useful especially in terms of information dissemination. 

Despite the benefits of mass media, it can also have a negative impact on the lives of young child and teenagers.  Compared to adults who have the ability to discern what is right or wrong young children and teenagers are more receptive to the message being transmitted through the mass media.  While adults are capable of sorting out which messages they receive and useful and which messages are garbage, because of their young age the children are incapable of doing so.  They are therefore more vulnerable to influence than adults, especially when the parents fail to guide their children.

In view of the extent and reach of the mass media, the modern world today is faced with several challenges which must necessarily be addressed.  The developments in internet technology have also started to magnify this problem.  This creates a problem insofar as regulation of the mass media and the monitoring of the information available to the children.

According to Mary Muscari the American children watch an average of 28 hours of television a week.  It is estimated that by the time an average child reaches the age 18, he will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence (p1). This highlights the problem of parents and lawmakers when the shows watched by children become unregulated and unmonitored.

In 2001, the Los Angeles Times released a news article about a sophomore at a private school in Baltimore County who secretly videotaped himself having sex with a 15-year-old girl and allowed his teammates to watch the video (Kathleen Kelleher, p.2).  When it was discovered the school administrators expelled the sophomore and suspended the students who watched it. 

The behavior may be surprising.  However, the behavior is just an expression of what they see on television.  Being constantly exposed to inappropriate messages about sexuality and even the constant exposure to violence in mass media, the young students nowadays think that sex and violence is normal.  It sends the wrong signal that everyone is doing it and that it happens on a daily basis to every people. 

While there are advocates of censorship on television, there are those who argue that the mass media should not be blamed for the action of the teenagers.  Afterall, “it is not the media’s responsibility to raise children.” (“'Raising children is not media's responsibility'” 1) Moreover, he said that the media is not responsible for “moral corruption, the hole in the ozone layer and even swine flu.” (“'Raising children is not media's responsibility'” 1)

While it may be true that the mass media should not be solely blamed for the present state of moral degradation, violence and corruption in the society it is also true that mass media should learn to accept a great responsibility especially the children.  It cannot continue to deny the fact that sex and violence are graphically being shown in the television and movies nowadays and that the teenagers are being de-sensitized because of constant exposure to what they see on television.  In fact, six medical organizations including the American Academyof Pediatrics and the American Medical Association have released statements that violence in media has an impact on children. (Congressional Public HealthSummit 2) 

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