Media influence is information that affects the behaviors and ways of thinking of users and consumers. Unfortunately, when we talk about media influence, it is more often associated with its negative consequences than its benefits. One of the main reasons for that is called “media responsibility.”
Because of media influence, many teenagers are exposed to inappropriate sexual acts, violence, and offensive language. Without sufficient parental supervision, these malicious themes can develop inside the teenage brain, making them think that such actions are appropriate for their age. That is why most media platforms are highly influential on a child’s cognitive and behavioral development.
Before the emergence of social media, people watched TV, listened to the radio, and played video games on their consoles. These were some of the most popular entertainment platforms in the 1990s. However, the continuous development of social media apps opened more avenues for media consumers. For example, people shifted from watching the news on TV to reading about them on Facebook, or from listening to the radio to streaming music on YouTube.
Many teenagers’ lives are influenced by social media presence since more than half of the world population has Internet access. According to a 2018 survey by the Pew Research Center with over 750 teens aged 13-17 as respondents, 45% of them were almost always online, and 97% used social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat. Through these sites, teens feel more involved with the world and can easily talk to their peers. Social media and technology have also encouraged students to communicate with their study groups.
Social media is essential because it allows people to connect, interact, and engage with friends and family regardless of their location. Teens may also interact quickly with other people through social media and share their life through photographs, videos, and status updates. Teens view these platforms as essential tools for forming and keeping friendships and relationships, being creative, and knowing more about the world. These social connections may also be beneficial to socially excluded people who suffer from chronic diseases that separate them from the outside world.
Social media also has a prominent role in the dissemination of information and opinions. The survey results from the Pew Research Center show that almost half of the teenage population post their achievements, emotions, feelings, relationships, and even political and religious views. Furthermore, it also allows them to show their creative side by posting their art and talents while finding their identity as growing teenagers.
Video gaming is a popular type of entertainment, with recent data showing over three billion hours spent in front of screens each week by video gamers. Scientists have studied how video games can influence someone’s behavior after excessive use, especially violent games. According to new research, spending at least 10–20 minutes interacting with violent gaming can increase brain activity in areas linked to anxiety and emotional response. At the same time, there is a decrease in activity in the frontal lobes linked to emotion regulation and executive function. According to experts, the dopamine release caused by gaming can be so intense that it may nearly shut down the prefrontal areas of the human brain.
Moreover, an increase in online hours may be linked to cyberbullying practices. Because of online anonymity, people often tend to exhibit aggression, heavy criticisms, and bullying on Facebook, Twitter, and the likes. Since they cannot see the immediate consequences of their acts, cyberbullies may experience less regret or empathy while engaging in these activities.
Nowadays, the constant use of media among teens makes them rely on the information provided by social influencers and celebrities. Not all information posted by celebrities is accurate, yet teens often trust them more than their parents, teachers, and even legitimate news sources.
It should be noted that these types of posts are usually tailored to the celebrity’s benefit. Sometimes, people do not bother to do some research and validate the information. Most political and religious views are heavily biased. Oftentimes, teens just go with what their favorite celebrities have to say.
Since the original goal of media is to provide entertainment, information, and communication, there are things you can do to turn the negative influences into positive ones. With your guidance, you could manage your teen’s media presence and consumption for their benefit.
It might be challenging to know how to safeguard your child from harmful media effects. You may strike a balance that doesn’t limit their pleasure of media by establishing a few ground rules. Here are a few methods to keep children safe from the dangers and risks of media use: