Media is defined as any means of mass communication used by the general public. This includes television, radio (music), magazines and newspapers, and social media sites on the internet. The media a collective term has grown exponentially as means of popular past-times and instant communication; however, it has also proved to be an effective way to manipulate standards and beliefs held by the public. As media focuses largely on the teenage populace, it cannot be ignored that while times change, socially acceptable standards change with it. This transformation is also credited to the media's influence on society, as it is as responsible for setting the standards as society itself.
Sex is everywhere in today's society. It has become almost a completely normal part of life when considering popular music of the 21st century, popular television shows and films- even photographic media involving modelling for brands. To completely shelter a child from these kinds of influences is verging on impossible for parents, unless they would consider it a compliment to be described as 'uptight' or 'strict'. The subject of sex is impressed on everyone from an early age, so it is no wonder that complicated and long-term relationships between two people are beginning to form during the early stages of adolescence. It is not to say that these kids are really looking that far into the adult world, however attraction and intimacy are becoming popular statements for new generations. While children begin to develop during puberty, it is not just their physical traits that are beginning to transform into those of adults; emotional and mental growth is now in session and this can be a confusing time for both the children and the parents. Boys apparently stink less and girls no longer have cooties, and it becomes 'cool' to be part of a functional and real relationship. This can be gratified by teenage television shows such as Hannah Montana and iCarly, two popular television shows that are centred around young teenagers interested in the world of dating. More mature shows such as Neighbours and Home and Away display more complex relationships, but it really is all the same. These television shows depict standards by which many viewers abide, whether consciously or not. A role-model means more to a person than just what they look like or what they are interested in; role models and popular figures are mimicked in their life choices and beliefs by those who don't know any better than to pay attention to the good, the bad choices, the intentional and unintentional public displays of their true selves. It becomes apparent to observers of this change that young teenagers generally practise their roles in this new world with confidence in the idealistic views of their role-models and the media's demonstration of expected teenage attitude.
Television is a considerably new form of media, but its importance is undeniable. While television is used to broadcast news and current events, it has always had an entertainment factor and is undoubtedly the most influential form of media out there. Neil Postman, an American media theorist, stated on CBC: ´´Television has become a kind of analogue to what the medieval church was in say the 14th or 15th centuries. For anything to be legitimate it has to come through television.´´ He continued to theorise the growing reliance on media, in this case the television, to supply viewers with important social updates and political reports. Television these days is a significant tool used for entertainment and a source of information. Being exposed to the influences of television such as advertisements for unhealthy foods or unhealthy lifestyles can greatly influence one's own morals and beliefs, and eventually alter one's own lifestyle choices. It is obvious that children reflect the actions of their role-models, and these are usually movie stars or musicians, both of which are usually shown on television at least once during their careers. Also, movies offer a chance to enter into another, more exciting world. Visual portrayals of action packed lives led by beautiful people can often leave viewers feeling unsatisfied with their own lives, and this may be the cause of rising levels of violence among the younger generations, especially in girls. On April 30th 2013, a show called Insight featured an in depth research into the cause of growing female aggression. One girl who was interviewed could not be identified as she had a police record by the age of fourteen for malicious injury caused to an elderly woman in the street.
When asked her motive for these actions, she said:
"We had nothing to do one night and my cousin suggested that we do it," she told Insight's Jenny Brockie. "I was sitting on her at first and when my cousin got her bag, she fell to the ground. To shut her up, we booted her [in] the face and the body."
One has to speculate, upon hearing of distressing circumstances, whether this would have happened even fifty years ago, when television and the media did not play such a big role in our lives; would this young girl have been bored enough to mug a helpless elderly woman if she was spending her time with family instead of watching violent films with her friends? If this girl was not as heavily influenced by obviously violent peers, who had grown up in a violent area, would this woman have been hospitalised due to serious concussion and broken bones? It is a sensitive area of negative media influence, but it must be broached in order to fully analyse the growing dependence on television, music and magazines to fuel enjoyment. The media offers a more exciting way of life that is not often offered to people, and to observe this excitement and adventure on screen forms a desire to be part of it. Here, media falls through in its initial purpose: to serve the public. Instead, it has become something for which the public strives.
Since video games became available, they were an instant hit. People no longer needed to leave the house to be entertained. A parent did not have to worry about the safety of their child if that child was playing in the house on his or her video game. Now, gaming is a large industry and is an acceptable past time for all ages. It begs the question, however: are these people getting enough exercise? It is a suitable stereotype to depict the average gamer to be male who may not be as interested in sports as other males. This is totally acceptable nowadays, however gaming has offered a way in which these people never have to participate in the 'outdoors', and this can raise problems. As well as the chronic trend in unhealthy diets of the new era of the 21st century, studies show that although some games can improve a person's hand-eye co-ordination, logical thinking and the mind's ability to process information, too much gaming can lead to serious physical conditions like obesity. Experts also worry that too much gaming time can interfere with a person's social life, school performance and family/friend relationships. Their ability to communicate with others may lack if the large part of communication someone would immerse themselves in is typed or with fictional characters. Games and television are closely connected, as the television is usually used in gaming, and television media also promotes gaming products. This can present issues for the wellbeing of users, but it is difficult to formulate ways to decrease gaming or television watching time. This is mostly because everyone has a right to use their time in any way they wish, regardless of the health warnings. If the government had the right to completely ban smoking, and the public was obligated to oblige, this would have been done. It is the same with any unhealthy habits, and the most that can be done is to raise awareness and try to prevent among younger people. The media plays a large role in advertising ways of life that are not necessarily healthy, and through directing attention to role-models that use advertised products or live a specific way, the media sets the standards and it is up to society to live by them.
Even though media is not the only source of standards, it remains to be one of the most influential among teenagers. Music, television (including shows and movies), games, social sites (facebook and twitter) and of course, magazines, all contribute to the growing expectations of how people should act in any situation. One of the most controversial is how teenagers must act when in a relationship, especially when they are in school, in public or at a party. All forms of media demonstrate certain expectations of young people in relationships, so it is difficult to dispute young people's actions when early relationships are forming and certain attitudes are occurring throughout that age group. It is becoming more obvious that teenagers reflect how their role-models act in these situations. The media has changed throughout the decades of its growing influence, and with it, our views on important social issues have evolved. When looking at media and its influence in general, it can be concluded that; firstly it has the biggest impact on younger generations, and secondly it is a large contributing factor to the development- or destruction- of key social and physical encounters between consumers. The media influences us as consumers more than we may care to realise, especially in areas of clothing, food and desirable objects to make life easier or more fun. It has also proven to affect the public's standards regarding relationships between young people- what is acceptable of them in any situation, and also what is expected of them. The question among the spectators of these social predicaments, in which young people are becoming drawn into at much earlier ages than ever before, is: Are these kids really thinking for themselves?