Media’s Influence On Children And Adolescents

714 words - 3 pages

Unlike previous generations who were “introduced” to the internet, television and social media, the present generation is “born” in it. By this statement, it is implied that children today are much closer to technology and media than adults are, and so, are more likely to be affected by it. Perhaps, the highest impact on the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development of children and adolescents is by media due to its ready availability through Smart phones, tablet PCs and other portable devices. This paper attempts to evaluate some of the influences of media on various aspects of child and adolescent development.

Impact on physical development: Excess use of media hinders physical development and growth. The main reason behind this effect is that media such as the internet, video gaming and television promote a sedentary lifestyle, leading to lack of physical exercise. More hours are spent sitting in front of the TV and PC screens than that spent on physical work. This promotes obesity not only because of lack of activity, but also because of the promotion of unhealthy eating habits through junk food advertisements that specially target children. For instance, ad campaigns by McDonalds promote their products by luring children with toys and dummies of their favorite cartoon characters. A number of studies have pointed out numerous negative health outcomes of increased use of media. In a review that assessed 173 studies on the impact of media on child and adolescent health, it was found that media exposure is strongly linked with increased obesity and tobacco use. A moderate association was found between media exposure and alcohol and drug use (Nunez-Smith et al., 2008, p. 1). Another cause of concern is the acceleration of the “onset of sexual activity” in children (Villani, 2001, p. 392). Increase in availability of sexually explicit material on the internet and TV prime time shows have encouraged children and adolescents to engage in sexual activities very early in life, resulting in increased incidence of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

Impact on cognitive development: Media promotes depression, anxiety and violent behavior in children. This is because many acts of violence are depicted in prime time shows and in video games. “High levels of television viewing are causally related to aggressive behavior and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes” (as cited in Strasburger & Donnerstein, 1999, p. 132). Furthermore, media affects children’s ability to learn. This is because...

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