Media Issues
By Maham Majeed

July 16, 2009

“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home,” said Kenneth Olson, President and Founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (in 1977). “People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night,” said Darryl F. Zanuck, Head of 20th Century-Fox (in 1946), while referring to the television. According to the Western Union Internal Memo (in 1876), the “…telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value...” We can seriously say that they were so wrong! The media is an extremely important aspect of our lives, which in fact revolves around it. The channels of communication that ‘media’ is composed of are essential, and no doubt, very useful. However, everything has its negative aspects, and the media is no different, giving rise to various controversial issues.

The media is manipulated in all manners, for example through professional public relations (PR), and covert and overt government propaganda which disseminates propaganda as news. Credible news sources can often knowingly or unknowingly be pushing political agendas and propaganda. In order to obtain a story/make a movie/report ‘news’ that will sell and appeal to people, those involved with the media tend to exaggerate. This form of manipulation might not mean a thing to the person doing the informing, however, it can have disastrous, even life-changing consequences on those receiving the information. Some techniques used by governments and parties/people with hidden agendas include:

* Paying journalists to promote certain issues without the journalist acknowledging this, or without the media mentioning the sources;
* Governments and individuals contracting PR firms to sell a war, or other important issues
* Disinformation or partial information reported as news or fact without attributing sources that might be questionable
* PR firms feeding stories to the press without revealing the nature of the information with the intention of creating a public opinion (for example, to support a war, where even human rights groups fall for some of the disinformation, thus creating an even more effective propaganda campaign)

Media is an inseparable part of life for most teenagers. There are different types of mass media that are inherently a part of the routine life of teenagers – for example television, computer, mobile phone or a music player. Considering the current influence of media, we need to agree on the fact that media plays an important role in shaping up opinions of teenagers. Media is a double-edged sword and hence there are positive effects of media as well as negative influences of media.

Negative Media Effects on Teenagers
There are several negative media effects on teenagers as well. Media is responsible for creating ideals about body image, owing to which several teenagers (especially girls) suffer from inferiority complex and resort to unhealthy practices to lose weight and get skinny. Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia sound appealing to them, as a result of the manipulation of media. The amount of excessive violence in media – be it the television, movies or the video games, tends to increase aggressive tendencies in teenagers. The amount of celebrity hype created by the media causes many children to make irrational demands for designer clothing, accessories and other perks of the celebrity life that they are exposed to. Glorification of unhealthy habits like smoking, drug abuse, unprotected sex and alcohol can encourage these habits in teenagers, which can permanently scar their lives. Teenagers start wanting and feeling things that would not have occurred to them previously. It does not occur to many of them that when the media portrays lives of celebrities as full of glitz and glamour, they are omitting important aspects of their lives, such as broken families, family disputes, financial problems and corruption.



Positive Media Effects on Teenagers
The media does have positive effects, despite its issues, and it would be omitting something imperative by not mentioning them. One main effect is the ease with which teenagers have learned to embrace technology – be it computers, Internet or iPods. Teenagers have no phobia for technology. Media has also contributed to increase the overall awareness of teenagers about their surroundings. In addition to this, media has also resulted in enhanced overall knowledge and understanding of curriculum subjects owing to the vast information resources that the media has to offer. If managed properly, media can be effectively used to generate awareness amongst teenagers about issues like sex, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and smoking.

The Television and Movie industry is probably very controversial as far as teens and children are concerned. The risk of watching something inappropriate and living with the consequences is always there. One can never be fully prevented from such occurrences. One goes to a restaurant to eat, a TV will be in your face, one is walking down the street, headlines of newspapers will ‘shout’ at you and TV screens will blare from windows of stores, the radio, television, internet, video games etc. are everywhere! An accidental click on the remote can lead to porn plastered over your television screen. And many, especially children and teenagers find something forbidden, vastly appealing. Parents can become paranoid thinking of the implications and consequences of introducing media in the lives of their children.

It’s obvious that the media has many issues. However, it is also something we can’t live without. I cannot say whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages or vice versa. I just believe that moderation is the answer. One should use the media to its best advantage when needed, and try not to be convinced easily by what it reports due to the propaganda present.

Sources:
http://www.globalissues.org/article/532/media-manipulationhttp://www.buzzle.com/articles/media-effects-on-teenagers.html

The Abuse of alcohol and drugs by teens is a problem that should be given more attention by both the government and parents alike, as it could get worse.



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