Other Issues in Media and Society

There are many other serious issues regarding Media and Society which are all very beneficial to be aware of and here I present few blogs which I strongly recommend people to read:

  • Katarina Pappova (https://msmlp.wordpress.com/) and Vanda Kabrtova (https://genderinequalityontv.wordpress.com) both in their blogs talk about gender discrimination in media. A topic which I am personally very passionate about and which is very relevant in today’s society. Not only they talk about the sexualisation of women, they also look at gender discrimination of transgender people and what negative effects such representation has on adults as well as children.
  • Yuliia Tabachenko (https://wearemorethanthese.wordpress.com) presents in her blog the issue of sexual as well as racial discrimination in media, looking at various media formats including cartoons and commercials. She also includes the political figure Donald Trump and his media coverage, which influences thousands of people daily within seconds due to new media technology. With his racist remarks he enhances xenophobia, which can lead to very brutal and damaging consequences.
  • Darina Shelkovnikova (https://darinashelk.wordpress.com/) addresses the issues of the ideal beauty portrayal of men and women in media and what negative and serious health issues can arise when people are from a young age surrounded by and presented with an unrealistic description of how they should look like and behave. She also includes her personal story of being affected by extreme restrictive diets which have caused her very serious health problems because she was exposed to constant unrealistic beauty standards which she tried to meet.
  • A more positive view on media is presented by Ksenia Frantsiyants in her blog (https://mediasocializationblog.wordpress.com) which speaks about the benefits of socializing over the internet. She introduces events with a positive outcome for people who have engaged in meeting people over the internet, who educated themselves over the internet, or used the internet in other positive ways, which definitely brings some hope for the new digital generation of people.
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My View

My View

By closely examining this issue, I have acquired much deeper knowledge of this subject which I find very relevant in today’s society. I do not regard media as completely damaging, however, if children are not closely watched, they come under a threat of commercial influence through media which can lead to their mental, but also physical, damage.

The typical child consumes eight hours of media per day. (Lee Tahnk, 2016) Author Lawrence Balter (2005) has found a positive correlation between lower income families and the amount of entertainment television programmes watched by children. Although children from higher income families do watch the same amount of television, they tend to watch more educational programmes which are proven to be beneficial for child’s development, such as the Sesame Street. (Paediatric Child Health, 2003) Television can successfully engage with children and improve their knowledge of many subjects and raise their awareness better than any other forms of media. (Camara, n.d.)

Children and youth are capable of using media in a positive way to support or engage positive social change. Millions of young people have engaged in online peer support groups, most of them believing that no person should be bullied because of their background or personality. But although the youth recognizes these problems surrounding media, media enables such action to take place. A majority of the young generation has seen cyberbullying and a majority believe that media allows people to be meaner than they would allow themselves to be in person. Offensive humour shared on the internet, in particular, has been recognized as a major tool for attacking and offending certain groups. (Gardner, 2016)

Another problem with media influence on children is the amount of violence it portrays. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry “Television programs display 812 violent acts per hour; children’s programming, particularly cartoons, displays up to 20 violent acts hourly.”(Beresin, 2016) Media often portrays violence as a way to resolve disputes, justifying crimes which are committed against the “evil” characters. Children can also become desensitized to violence which they see too often.  Even if parents limit the number of violent movies, music videos and video games children are exposed to at home, children can see different forms of media at school, or even outside on billboards and on other forms of advertisements. (Beresin, 2016) Even news coverage of natural disasters, crimes, and other violent acts can have a negative effect on children’s mental health, resulting in children suffering from anxiety and fear of growing up in society. (Camara, n.d.)

Media consumption has also been linked to health problems including child obesity. As children are exposed to commercials of junk food, they can form poor eating habits, which can be hardly weaned. Instead of playing outside, children are also more likely to sit at home, playing on their phones, tablets or watching TV which decreases their physical activity. There has been a rise in the number of children reported to suffer from obesity, which can be detrimental to children’s life later on. (Camara, n.d.)

Nowadays, children are also under threat of losing their privacy. Online safety concerns everyone who is online, however, since children often don’t have a deep understanding of the potential internet threats, parents are key in protecting them from the dangers internet poses. Some parents, sadly, instead of keeping their children out of the social media world, choose to post very personal content on their social websites. Children who are shown on these pictures or videos can later in their life be very conscious and anxious about their past mistakes and behaviours, which can have again a negative impact on their mental health and their confidence. (Fottrell, 2016)

Safer internet use can be achieved through limiting or filtering content children can access or using other means of protection rather than turning children’s connection off completely. (Livingstone, 2016) Parents should engage with children when online, helping them understand what is going on in media as children are exposed to prevent child’s misunderstanding. The time children are exposed to media should also be controlled, maintaining a healthy balance between the digital world and the real one. (Califano, 2011) This way, if parents or guardians follow smart techniques and measures when letting their children use technology, media has a good chance at remaining beneficial to child’s development instead of hindering it.

Works Cited:

For Further Research

There are many websites with useful information regarding this topic, which maintain updated information about new issues which appear in the news, and also talk about possible solutions and ways to limit the negative impacts of media on children.

One great website is Common Sense, (https://www.commonsensemedia.org/), which was created mainly to help parents with analysing if movies, and other types of media including apps, TV channels and other, are suitable for children and at what ages. It also provides helpful information for parents about their possible concerns with media including cyberbullying, children’s marketing, violence and sex exposure and other possible threats.

A website, which not only provides information for parents about the negative effects of media on children but asks parents and others to act in order to change what children are exposed to, is the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood website (http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/). It provides helpful advice to parents of how to make children less dependent on all kinds of technology and help them separate themselves from the ever-present media influence.

Although more broadly, the American Academy of Paediatrics also provides information about the influence of media on children by providing an academic analysis of the problem. Although they focus on other issues surrounding children and their development, here is the direct link to where they provide information about media: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiative1s/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx.

Another very useful website is the one of Net Family News (http://www.netfamilynews.org/). The website was founded by an experienced journalist Anne Collier and the whole site is based heavily on news articles and blog posts. Through this approach, it provides parents with information which they can read in an easily understandable way, which is well structured and also coherent.  Most of these articles are written by Anne herself, which adds familiarity to the writing and makes the articles relatable.

What the Experts say II.

Angela Barnes and Christine Laird, both researchers of media influence, posted a blog post in 2012, analysing the effects of social media on children. They state in their work that there are many positive aspects of media, including easier communication and sharing of ideas. Children can also use media to learn about subjects which they are maybe too afraid or uncomfortable to ask in person, such as about sexually related business.

However, among these positive effects of media, there are also many negative ones. Media can negatively affect the mental health of children, already from a very early age. According to their findings, children who use Facebook and similar social sites “tend to be more narcissistic, antisocial, and aggressive”. Another problem with social media is the increased risk of cyberbullying, from which children can become very self-conscious. Children who are exposed to advertisements in media also alter their buying habits accordingly, being very vulnerable to harmful goods such as junk food and other goods.

What the Experts say I.

The Paediatrics and Child Health journal has published a full report in 2003 about the negative Impact of Media Use on Children and Youth, made up of analysis of many studies conducted on that matter from various researchers and universities. Their main conclusion was that as the number of hours when children are exposed to media increases, the less can children develop their social, physical and mental skills.

Although some could argue that, for example, television can serve as good teaching material, which has been supported by a study called Thirty Years of Research on Sesame Street which concluded that the programme has a positive impact on child’s development. Television, on the other hand, holds back children from activities such as reading and writing and other physical activities. Media constant coverage of mal-nutritious foods has been linked many times to child’s obesity and poor eating habits. Sexualisation of children in the media has also become an issue, together with children’s dependency on media as teaching material for sexual education. A study on such matter has been published in the Committee on Public Education in 2001.

Moreover, the report concluded that not only does media have negative impacts on child’s development when it exposes them to inappropriate sexual content and age-inappropriate language, it also increases children’s violent behaviour. The amount of violence shown on television has increased dramatically in the past years, but not only exposure to violent TV has an impact on children. A study done by Dr Madelyn S Gould and associates concluded that there is also a relationship between media coverage of suicides and the suicide risk that comes from that coverage.

Reference:

Paediatric Child Health. (2003). Impact of media use on children and youth. Paediatrics & Child Health8(5), 301. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792691/

Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media. Committee on Public Education Pediatrics. Jan 2001, 107 (1) 191-194; DOI: 10.1542/peds.107.1.191