26 March 2015
Mass media is a significant and powerful force in modern culture. Society is bombarded constantly with various messages from mass media in the forms of television, the Internet, social media like Facebook and Twitter, newspapers and magazines, billboards, etc. The messages each form of media deliver may be directed towards a certain audience, however, any audience will see them and possibly be influenced by them. Every segment of the population is influenced my mass media, even if it is not purposely. However, youth of all races and social classes are most prone to the influences of mass media’s messages, advertising, and stereotypes because they are in the life stage of figuring themselves out and what they see and receive around them shapes that discovery. Adolescence is a life stage in which teenagers start to see and experience the world for themselves without assistance. In modern society, this involves access to technology and mass media. The average child has watched television since he or she was a baby, and receives access to the Internet and cellphones once he or she gets to middle school or high school. These privileges open the door to the constantly moving and influencing world. Although most children receive guidance and advice from older people around them on how to take on this world, they are almost entirely dependent on themselves. This is what makes mass media easily mold the lives of these teens. It becomes all they see, a part of their everyday lives. They watch television shows and movies with hidden messages, glimpse at commercials that try to influence them to do something, go outside and see ads that showcase something they may want, listen to radio channels with music that have influencing words, hear radio announcements and commercials advertising something, read newspapers and magazines that have different influential pictures and words, use apps and forms of social media that have ads and news all over it, and use the Internet that has access to everything this influential world has to offer. As soon as a child reaches adolescence, they become prone to the messages and stereotypes promoted by mass media. “Youth spend an average of >7 hours/day using media, and the vast majority of them have access to a bedroom television, computer, the Internet, a video-game console, and a cell phone… Children and adolescents spend more time with media than they do in any other activity except for sleeping” (Strasburger et al. 1). The substantial amount of time youth spend with media allows for more messages and images to seep into their minds. In “Health Effects of Media on Children and Adolescents”, it is reported that close to five hours of the days are spent watching television, close to three hours are spent listening to music, almost two hours are spent using the Internet, and less than an hour is spent on reading prints by children between the ages 8 and 18 (Strasburger et al. 1). The year of this publication dates 2010. Today, these numbers have increased drastically, and not to forget, cellular devices is not apart of this, which is the main source of all of the above and includes apps for specific means of media. Every second spent using these forms of media, some aspect of the teenager’s life is influenced, positively or negatively.
Identity is one of the major aspects that is molded by messages and stereotypes promoted by the media. “… adolescents use media more than ever during this time period (from a uses and gratifications perspective) with goals of identity construction and maintenance” (Richards 14). This construction is based on stereotypes in the forms of images and words in media. Women have the most stereotypes presented in media, and because women are basically more emotional, they are the easier targets of allowing these stereotypes to influence them. Adolescence, especially, is the time of a female’s life where she is