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Media And Its Effects On Teenagers

3753 words - 16 pages

Media is the main means of mass communications, such as televisions (TVs), radio, magazines and newspapers, which reach the wide majority of a population. It offers entertainment, culture, news, sports and education, and celebrities are regarded by young people as heroes and idols. The media is an important and often inescapable part of our lives and has much to teach but some of what it teaches may not be what we want our youth to learn. Our society is constantly bombarded with commercials whose purpose is to sway our buying habits, and with shows, movies and magazines which influence what we wear, like, and think. These messages are interpreted differently by young people and have a direct impact on their increase use of illegal, and sometimes prescribed, drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. There is a direct relation between the ways celebrities are viewed as having the perfect lifestyle and how teenagers believe illegal substances would enhance their life in the same way. The different sources of media also aid in this portrayal. Reality TV shows promote the use and abuse of drugs, alcohol and tobacco by celebrities and regular people who get their one minute chance in the limelight.
In today’s society, the media has many beneficial along with undesirable influences that determine the behavior of many teens and young adults. With its constant development and advancement, young people especially are constantly exploiting different sources of media in which indirect messages are influencing their behavior within society. Alcohol and drugs are the most common substances that are continuously portrayed in the media and consumed by our youth (Atkinson, Bellis, Elliot, and Sumnall, 6). Adolescents encounter a variety of alcohol and drug representations through the media, which influences their own outlooks and feelings on alcohol and drug intakes, and will cultivate to what is being portrayed as “cool” and lose sense of reality. The intake of alcohol and drugs are represented as normalized activities which influences the way it is perceived in society (Atkinson, Bellis, Elliot, and Sumnall, 6). The normalization of substance abuse results in these actions to be standardized and regulated throughout society (Strasburger, 792). This aspect changes adolescents’ perspectives on substance use as it also causes it to increase in society.
The media is constantly changing and so are the rules that govern it. After World War II, tobacco companies would sponsor entire shows and television commercials featured prominent stars such as John Wayne. Although in the late 1950s there were reports regarding the harmful effects of smoking, some cigarette companies would even promote cigarettes by providing them to hospitalized veterans free of charge. It is only in 1971, with the passage of the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, that all TV and radio cigarette ads were banned. In 1998, a $206 billion settlement was reached with the four largest United States (US)...

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