Media and What it Does to Our Children
Television has perverse this generation. Have a topic of conversation about children with a baby boomers and you will sure to have a contrast and comparison discussion between today’s children and how things were for them when they were at that age. Moreover, somewhere between the lines of communication, you are sure to hear the phrase "when we were younger" we would not dear do what kids are doing today. They will be sure to talk about the "good old days", "back in the day" times when young people’s actions were more respectful. Their main goal was a quality of life, in contrast to today's generation who comes across less respectfully with only an interest in the profit margin. Many of these Baby Boomers anxiously want to solve what they perceive as a problem with today's generation. As you examine the variances in each era, the one prevailing factor is the domination of the media on today’s children.
Media, as defined by the English dictionary, is "the main means of mass communication (especially television, radio, newspapers, and the internet) regarded collectively". The role of media "back in the day"-before Baby Boomers’ time-was limited to radio and newspapers. The enhancement of television and the expansion of the internet shifted today’s young people at a different level of information and influence that they have become the out of control generation. E. B. White, an American writer, coined it best when he wrote "...television is going to be the test of the modern world..."
The addict - whether drug, food or sex - at some point in his affliction wishes that the first taste of the element never took place. He lives with regret daily as he tries to overcome his addiction. If the inventor of the television could have seen the influence of television on today’s children, would he too feel some regret?
Media influence is not limited to community members, time, or demographics; the power extends to all Americans, young and old. While it is true not all young people act out based on media power, this does not negate the dominance of television. Whether or not media inspiration manifests in a particular has more to do with other external factors such as availability of resources or time.
Similar to the dangers of long-term smoking of cigarettes, initially many denied the monopoly of television on society-children in particular. Comparable to the handling of the presence of cigarettes in society, research and studies were conducted that later ascertained irrefutably that television has and continues to adversely influence children. Advertisers, eager to capitalize on the strong influence of television, spend a large amount of money on television commercials. Think back to the last super bowl game and consider the purchase price for a commercial time slot. A one-hour television show has over 10% of commercials. Even with the extensive reports on the impact of television on children, many continue to reject its power, its dominance. They ignore studies, the consequences, and in particularly the signs of such a cogent media.
The age of watching
A television sits on a stand in many homes and within these homes, children at the age of two begin to part take in the entertaining world of TV land. Children spend 16 to 55 hours per week in front of the television. Many believe that parents use television as a form of babysitting. It is easy, most parents declare, to put their child in front of the television while they do housework. Video games, played frequently via television, also serves as a tool to keep children occupied. Statistically, this translates to an average weekly gaming of 2-4 hours.
With such constant exposure to television, children view over 10,000 violent scenes involving a gun, sharp objects, or bodily attacks. This viewing of violence also extends to music videos and commercials. A child’s exposure to suggestive or explicit sex within a year’s interval is around 15,000. Exposure within a 24-hour period includes prime time television, which is supposed to be more family oriented than any other time slot. Drugs, which by definition includes cigarettes, alcohol, and illegal substances appear on the television about 70% of the time.
Companies wanting to sell their products and service have done their research and has come to understand the power of televising their products. Hence, they hire special groups to help them target a certain audience. Consequently, commercials project enticing scenarios that appeal to the masses, in particular to children and young adults. In the pursuit of increasing sales, companies create commercials filled with unrealistic scenarios that often appeal to the emotional nature of its audience.
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Many disagree that the programs, videos, series, movies, and commercials influence the behavior of children and young adults. Coincidently, experts provide statistics that prove what they call “a cause-and-effect relationship” between media and its audience. Since the broadcasting of media affects adults then how much more children, who have yet to develop their cognitive abilities. For the people who insist watching television does not influence them, they should consider how they felt walking out of the movie theater after watching a movie for 1-2 hours. Eventually, you are able to shake off the influence of the movie but it lingers. This is what young people experience but without the adult filter needed to have normal responses within their peer group.
Children are great imitators of what they see, whether in the home or on the television screen. Portrayed in a romantic fashion, after repeated exposure, violence, and perverted sex will have an appeal and at times become a norm; of course, the more famous the performer, the greater the influence. Famous actors depicted as “good guys” acting adjacent to “bad guys” are gloried and justified. Consequently, it is easy to connect homicide and suicide to violence on television. If you child repeatedly watches a famous actor tackle “bad” behavior with the use of gun then after a while he will believe violence is a natural next step to solving his problem.
TV and sex
Experts convey that young girls and boys who excessively watch soap operas or shows with sexy scenes were more likely to engage in sex at an early age. The more sexual the television show the greater the influence on the decision to have sex. Because of too much TV, these young adults tend to be more sexual. They are more likely to confuse the imaginary worlds recreated for television with reality.
TV and alcohol
There are commercials that glorify drinking and smoking. These short movies lean toward influencing teenagers to imitate habits rendered by the actors. The media creators depict story lines that foster falsehood of status, love and pleasure for people who use their products. Frequent exposure to these types of advertisement induce young adults to try alcohol and or cigarettes. Aware of the power of imagery toy manufactures also use commercial to promote their products. Hence, the long Christmas list from children to parents.
In 1996, Congress passed the Telecommunications Act to reduce the amount of violence watched by children. This law is responsible for the Rated PG and R status of movies. Conversely, with this regulations imposed by Congress, the media industry has yet to taper the amount of violence, level of sexual and alcohol content in its productions. In fact, Baby Boomers will insist that these vices are more prevalent. What are single parents or parents in general to do? A recommendation is the radical removal of television in homes. Many might dismiss such a suggestion. Watching television, like much of what we do is a habit that can be broken. However, one has to be willing to do so. Life has countless adventurers and children will not experience them as long as they continue to sit in front of the television. Parents who cannot make such a drastic change, try limiting television viewing to the weekends for about 2-4 hours. Maintain this habit and notice with time that your children eagerly peruse a rich and productive live away from the screen.