Time Capsule Tuesday | How Images In Media Affect Teens

Welcome to Week 4! Okay, this one made me laugh because of my tone. I think this must have been a Grade 10 English assignment on speechwriting since I labelled this file “speech”. Also, it’s pretty sad that this is still highly relevant today. Grade 10 for me would have been 10 years ago now. Get your shit together, media.

How Images In Media Affect Teens 


Today when you turn on the television, you typically see one of three things; violence, sex, and drugs. These programs of course, are aimed at the younger demographic – teenagers, and young adults. One could argue that – it’s just media -it’s just entertainment – but the underlying truth is that these kinds of images have more of an affect on the younger demographic than we would like to admit.

The average teen spends three to four hours daily in front of the television. Behind sleeping, it is the second most common activity for a teen to spend their time doing.

Studies have shown that violence in young persons increases with more television and movie viewing. 61% of television programs contain violence, and only 4% of which carry out an anti-violence theme. Very rarely do any of these programs show the negative long-term effects and consequences of such acts. This increases the chances of aggression in teens, and increases the probability that teens will use violence as a means to solve problems. The truth is rarely shown. The jail sentence, the family struggles, the emotional and physical injuries. But, is the fact that these consequences are rarely shown to the public a means for allowing this to take place? That’s the issue. Young teens, especially don’t know the difference, and can only make sense out of what they see, which often isn’t the second side of the story.

The most popular television series amongst teens are shows like; The O.C, Laguna Beach, and various other teen drama spin-offs. Fresh-faced, well groomed actors and actresses are the spokespeople of this generation. These shows, and these characteristics of the “common teen”, are actually incredibly inaccurate when placed beside a typical modern society. However; it is how the media is portraying the ideal society which affects the way teens behave, trying to adapt to be part of that standard ideal which they are shown.

Boys have it easier than girls in this area. Often teens are shown strong, inspirational leaders in films, a role often played by a male. But for women, their role is based solely on appearance.  This creates a set standard for young teens and how they should behave and look – and this standard is typically unrealistic and hard to obtain. They are shown models, which fit into size zero clothes, and celebrities who are built to perfection. But no one can be perfect.

And what does this lead to? Eating disorders, depression, sometimes even suicide, drug use.

The sad truth is, most teenagers are aware that these standards are unrealistic. So why do we still fail to just accept that it really is just media, it really is just entertainment. Why doesn’t the line end there? Why do teens go the distance in attempting to achieve perfection, knowing that it’s impossible, and harmful? Why do we use violence, knowing that others will suffer and feel the effects of our actions?

Why? Because it’s media. Because this is the 20th century. Instead of “Leave It To Beaver” or “I Love Lucy”, there’s “America’s Next Top Model”, and “Nip/Tuck”. How did our society fall to such a low where appearance is the top priority, violence is an effective decision maker, and communication is – boring. Why listen to someone give an inspirational speech when there’s a murder mystery film on TBS?
We need to learn to separate entertainment from reality. We need to acknowledge that thick line that separates the average person from the media standard. Or else what will our society become? Probably nothing but the next hit series.

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