Negative Effects of the Media On Teenagers

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This essay looks at the negative issues of the media. Specifically; violence, sexual issues, and health issues

Submitted: October 19, 2011

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Submitted: October 19, 2011




Negative Effects of Media on Teenagers

The objective of this essay is to look at the negative impacts of media on teenagers in North America. This essay will show how the media affects the level of violence amongst teenagers. It will also look at how the media can cause certain sexual issues to arise among teens. This essay will also address some of the health issues that come up as a result of the media. 

Firstly, we must determine what the media is exactly. All media are the constructions of reality that have powerful, yet subtle, social implications (Imprints). These social implications have the ability to influence how teens think, shop, dress, behave, judge people and feel about themselves (ibid). Concerns about the negative effects of violence in the media began as early as 1946, shortly after violent television programs emerged. By 1972 sufficient empirical evidence had accumulated for the U.S. Surgeon General to comment that “…televised violence, indeed, does have an adverse effect on certain members of our society” (Anderson). Things such as violence in the media can translate into violence in society. This can be caused by a teenager viewing too much violent images in the media. This can lead to things such as desensitization of the teenagers. Desensitization is when people no longer react to things such as violence and other negative stimuli the way they are supposed to. For example, after viewing many violent movies and television programs, a child may think that the idea of hurting someone else is acceptable. According to a report in the Washington Post, a one-year study found that

·57% of television programs contained some violence

·Perpetrators of violent acts on television go unpunished 73% of the time

·58% of violent incidents show no pain, which could lead to teens believing that violence is pain free

·Only 4% of programs provide a non-violent solution to solving problems (Hawkes).


This just goes to show how much violence there really is in media today. Up to 58% of these violent incidents show the victim experiencing little to no pain. This can lead people to believing that violent behavior does not incite any pain, which could lead them to committing more of these violent acts. This will eventually change their moral reasoning, leading them to believe that violence is actually a good thing and therefore they will do it even more. Some of the most tragic events in history such as the Columbine Massacre and the North Hollywood Shootout of 1997 were a result of violence being portrayed in the media. The North Hollywood Shootout perpetrators were heavily influenced by the Michael Mann movie HEAT (Bryant). The movie was found in the killers’ home and the events of the shootout were a direct replica of the one in the movie, including the bank robbery and shooting of the police and pedestrians (ibid). This shows how violence portrayed in the media definitely has a profound effect on society.

The media also depicts sexual issues that affect teenagers’ views on said issues. One of the sexual issues illustrated in the media is the acceptance of the abuse of women. This can be seen in forms such as misogynistic rap music and movies in which violence against women is accepted. Rap music is a very popular form of music that originated in the 1980s as a way for impoverished African-American people to talk about their struggles in life. However, once rap music became more and more popular the subject of the music gradually changed from rappers talking about their life struggles to singing about how successful they have become due to their large sums of money, grand cars, and beautiful women. This is where sexism began to appear in rap music. Rappers began to talk about the abuse of women in their songs. For example,

Wait I got a snow bunny, and a black girl too,
You pay the right price and they’ll both do you.
That’s the way the game goes, gotta keep it strictly pimpin’,
Gotta have my hustle tight, makin’ change off these women.
You know it’s hard out here for a pimp,
When he tryin’ to get this money for the rent.
For the Cadillacs and gas money spent,
Because a whole lot of bitches talkin’ shit.

Excerpt from “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” – Three 6 Mafia (Kubrin)

This excerpt from the Academy Award winning song “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” is a clear example of misogyny in rap music. This is seen as the group compares women to prostitutes and how they use women to gain money. Since the group is famous, their fans may believe that being abusive to women is something cool and they might try to emulate them. The media also shows movies in which violence against women is seen as an acceptable act. Recently, a study was conducted where college students were made to watch movies in which women were subjected to violence and then surveys were conducted afterwards. The results indicated that exposure to the films portraying violent sexuality increased male subjects' acceptance of interpersonal violence against women (Barker). This noticeably shows the media’s influence on the acceptance of sexual issues such as violence against women.

The media also changes teenagers’ views on health issues. The media nowadays is filled with young, beautiful celebrities gracing the covers of magazines, billboards, and appearing in television programs looking like the personification of beauty. These images of perfection, however, are usually faked and edited by using computer programs to make them appear more attractive. Teenagers are presented with unattainable illustrations of beauty. This is why some teenagers resort to dieting methods such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Anorexia nervosa is when people starve themselves in order to lose weight (U. Wallin). Bulimia is when people force themselves to vomit up their food so that they will not gain weight (ibid). This shows how the media presents society with impossible images of good looks which teenagers try to imitate by forcing themselves to destroy their bodies. Health issues in the media are changing teen views on the issue.

In conclusion, the media has negative influences on teen society. This is done by showing teens violence in the media, confusing teens’ moral reasoning when it comes to sexual issues, and giving teenagers negative images of health in society. This is why the media needs to be more regulated and become stricter in general.






Work Cited

Anderson, Craig A., and Brad J. Bushman. "The Effects of Media Violence on Society." Science/AAAS 29 Mar. 2002: 2377-2378. Science's Compass. Web. 18 May 2010.

Barker, Martin. Ill Effects: The Media/Violence Debate (Communication and Society). 2 ed. New York: Routledge, 2001. Print.

Bryant, Jennings. Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research (Lea's Communication Series). 3 ed. New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Colton, Patricia, Marion  Olmstead, Denis  Daneman, Anne Rydall, and Gary  Rodin. "Disturbed Eating Behavior and Eating Disorders in Preteen and Early Teenage Girls With Type 1 Diabetes  —  Diabetes Care ." Diabetes Care . N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2010. <>.

Hawkes, Charles. Images of Society : Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology. Toronto: Mcgraw-Hill Ryerson, Limited, 2001. Print.

 Imprints 11 (Short Stories, Poetry, Essays, Media). Meh: Gage, 2001. Print.

Kubrin, Charis, and Ronald Weitzer. "(Page 2 of 41) - Misogyny in Rap Music: Objectification, Exploitation, and Violence against Women authored by Kubrin, Charis. and Weitzer, Ronald.." All Academic Inc. (Abstract Management, Conference Management and Research Search Engine). All Academic, Inc., n.d. Web. 18 May 2010. <>.

Michael Moore Limited Edition DVD Collector's Set (Bowling for Columbine / The Big One). Dir. Michael Moore (Ii). Perf. Michael Moore. Mgm (Video &Amp; Dvd), 2002. Film.

U., Wallin, Kronovall P., and Majewski M-L.. "IngentaConnect Body awareness therapy in teenage anorexia nervosa: outcome after...." IngentaConnect Home. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., n.d. Web. 18 May 2010. <>.


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