“It matters very much who you allow in your life[…] it’s important that the people you surround yourself with set you up for success.”
-Ann Shocket, Editor of Seventeen Magazine
Media has made a huge progressive jump since the 1900’s. This meant, that in the 1900’s “ [media was] driven by the needs of advertisers […] increasingly relied on entertainment with violent content […] turned increasingly to violence and sexual content.” (Romer and Jaimeson, 7) By the turn of the century, media meant the introduction of social media. In 2010, Fox news stated, “Younger users now utilize Twitter and Facebook to make micro-updates.” With the extension of these social sites, teens are now more exposed to the lives of many celebrities, models, and athletes (i.e., their next big movie deal, their new dietary lifestyle, to even their next court date). This influences teens to do the same as their famous idol. Youth are more vulnerable and willing to experiment with what they see in media.
A study conducted in 2004 showed that “several children’s videos emphasized physical appearance and thinness. Among the videos studied were “Cinderella” and The “Little Mermaid.”” (Hammond, 11) These movies featured young girls as thin with long beautiful flowing hair being transformed from societal “not good enough”, to “beautiful enough for a prince”. That being said it is possible that young children would carry these messages with them into their youth (teen years), developing eating disorders, and self-esteem issues that last a lifetime.
The aforementioned study showed that “a child develops their lifelong eating patterns, along with their self-esteem at a young age.” (Hammond, 9) While two schools of thought exist, that children could not latch onto and take these media messages with them throughout life, it is true. According to Romer and Jaimeson, “…youth absorb media messages, because adolescents are more impulsive than adults and willing to experiment…” (10) This is because “children are more vulnerable to media messages.” (Romer and Jaimeson, 11) These media messages affect all children, girls and boys.
For instance the mediated pubescent young male, because of media we do not find that boys struggle with physical appearance issues, eating disorders, etc. Wannamaker, who collected many essays about boys and the media and often gets response, regarding her studies, “ that are often enthusiastic but vague: ‘Oh…boys and the media…That’s a problem, isn’t it?;” (4)
Included in her studies Wannamaker found that some “generations of adults, proclaim that each new development- from movies to comic books to music to video games to the internet- will most certainly create marauding bands of juvenile delinquents.” (5) While Romer and Jaimeson “found that exposure to television at age 14 (in 1983) predicted various forms of aggressive behavior at age 22, including physical fights, robbery, and use of a weapon to commit crime.” (14)
In conclusion, media can in fact affect the way young people define their identities; they are vulnerable. Research has shown that young people develop self-esteem and their eating patterns at an early age. Media does have strong messages conveying thin body images, thus effecting the way young people will develop their eating patterns. Research has also shown that youth absorb media messages, because they are more willing to experiment with what they