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.
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.
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.
Paediatric Child Health. (2003). Impact of media use on children and youth. Paediatrics & Child Health, 8(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
An important issue regarding the negative effects of media on children, which is currently being discussed, is the rising number of children suffering obesity. Several studies including a study from the University of Liverpool, Yale University, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and other recent studies suggest that junk food advertising has helped to increase children craving such foods.
The study from the University of Liverpool has concluded that although there isn’t a correlation between junk food advertisements and adult junk food consumption, there is a strong one between such ads and children. The author of the research Dr. Emma Boyland further states that “Small, but cumulative increases in energy intake have resulted in the current global childhood obesity epidemic and food marketing plays a critical role in this. We have also shown that the effects are not confined to TV advertising; online marketing by food and beverage brands is now well established and has a similar impact.”
Very little has been done to reduce the amount of junk food commercials, however, there has been some incentive. In America, some candy companies have agreed to not advertise their products to an audience under the age of 12. Last year, major children’s channel Disney has banned all junk food commercials in their programme in the US, bringing hope for a brighter future in raising up our new generation of children. Disney, however, is yet to extend this ban to other countries where it airs. The government in the UK announced in February to take incentives to ban junk food advertisements during peak times, this could be, however, very costly and approval of such restriction can still take a long time.
Biggest fast food chains McDonald’s and Burger King both have taken a pledge in the US already in 2006, due to the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, to promote only healthy foods in their advertisements. However, studies conducted in 2013 again by Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth show that both companies failed to do so. Children are not less attracted to come to their restaurants due to the restaurants advertising toy rewards which go along with their unhealthy and low-nutritious meals. The Journal of Pediatrics has informed in 2016 about the dangers of toy selection available in junk food restaurants, which cheats children to eating in such restaurant only for a bonus they get to take home.
- BNP Media. (2016). Six candy companies pledge to stop advertising to children under 12. Candyindustry.com. Retrieved 24 April 2016, from http://www.candyindustry.com/articles/87219-six-candy-companies-pledge-to-stop-advertising-to-children-under-12
- Dell’Antonia, K. (2015). More Research Suggests Fast-Food Advertising Works on Children. Motherlode Blog. Retrieved 24 April 2016, from http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/30/more-research-suggests-fast-food-advertising-works-on-children/?_r=0
- Emond, J., Bernhardt, A., Gilbert-Diamond, D., Li, Z., & Sargent, J. (2016). Commercial Television Exposure, Fast Food Toy Collecting, and Family Visits to Fast Food Restaurants among Families Living in Rural Communities. The Journal Of Pediatrics, 168, 158-163.e1. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.09.063
- Owen, G. (2016). Fury over PM’s bid to ban junk food ads from shows like The X Factor. Mail Online. Retrieved 24 April 2016, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3435456/Fury-PM-s-bid-ban-junk-food-ads-shows-like-X-Factor-cost-BBC-s-rivals-200m-year-say-critics.html
- NHS Choices. (2012). Walt Disney ‘to ban junk food adverts by 2015’ – Health News – NHS Choices – Behind the Headlines. Nhs.uk. Retrieved 24 April 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/06june/Pages/disney-bans-junk-food-adverts.aspx
- Relaxnews. (2016). Study finds junk food ads increase food consumption in kids. CTVNews. Retrieved 24 April 2016, from http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/study-finds-junk-food-ads-increase-food-consumption-in-kids-1.2758653
One of the current major issues surrounding media influence on children is the amount of sexual content which they are exposed to daily.
This month, terrifying news has flooded in from Australia, where children, already at the age of five, were recommended to attend therapy for sexual misbehaviour at school. The Weekend Australian has last Thursday published a story about kindergarten children, who not only tried to sexually arouse their peers, but also acted out various sexual scenes using toys available to them. Records show that not only the number of sexual incidents involving young children increases every year, the number of children marked involved with inappropriate sexual behaviour further increases as they proceed into their teenage years. Chris Gordon, an expert in the field of therapy for family problems, stated that “Easy access to sexual images on the internet and mobile phones is frequently recognised as a crucial factor” when children are seen to be behaving age-inappropriately.
Nowadays, children do not have to access pornography websites to be exposed to sexual content as the majority of TV series, commercials and other advertisements shown in the prime time display some kind of sexual setting. According to Victor Strasburger, a Professor of Paediatrics, Professor of Family and Community Medicine and Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine at the University Of New Mexico School Of Medicine, astonishing 14000 sexual references are made on TVs per year alone.
It is important to pay attention when children manage to generate various sexual innuendos, as although it could suggest only child’s curiosity and simple growing up, it could also be a sign of trauma, anxiety or exposure to inappropriate media or even poor parenting.
A severe case of serious sexual harassment coming from young children has already been reported in Australia earlier this year when a four-year-old was provoking his classmates to engage in sexual-themed games during playtime. Australia is, however, not the only country which deals with such incidents. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in the UK has recently called for help in order to tackle problems regarding the growing number of children showing detrimental sexual behaviour in the country.
Read more: Boston Children’s Hospital. (2015). How can media contribute to sexual behaviors in children?. Cmch.tv. Retrieved 23 April 2016, from http://cmch.tv/parents/sexual-behavior/