In this age of age of media overload, it’s important that we recognize and monitor what our children are exposed to, especially our adolescents and teen, so that we can help them to understand, and cope with, the ideas that they seen in the media. During middle and high school, our children are transitioning from child to adulthood and the images and media that surrounds them affects how they see themselves, as well as their place in the world.
Discuss the media’s impact on students’ belief systems and prejudices
If teens are watching MTV, YouTube, or any other “mainstream” pop culture media , discuss the images portrayed in the videos and posts they view. How do they portray violence, women, or racial stereotypes? Explain desensitization. What is it? How does it affect our attitudes? React with ‘moral feeling’ to media portrayals that are detrimental to students’ well-being.
Whether young teens are watching TV, going to movies, listening to the radio or streaming content from the internet, they are exposed to countless acts of violence and sex daily. Because these incidents of sex and violence are a common diet for society’s collective mind, young people are not even aware that there is a problem. They see nothing wrong with the images. They have no idea how the media is shaping their thinking. Inform them about how the influence of media molds our values and attitudes.
Be persistent. Adolescents are strongly influenced by their environment. It is critical that we challenge the environmental conditioning that is taking place. Explain why you feel the way you do. Children need to know you care about how they are developing as human beings. Don’t preach! Preaching is tuned out. Say what you mean. Say it quickly, clearly, and emphatically, and it will be heard.
Media and Teen Girls
The women in an adolescent girl’s life play an important part in shaping her attitudes and beliefs about the role of women in society. Girls need role models who base their identity and self-worth on who they are as people, rather than on how pretty or fashionable they are. These female role models are confident because of their talents and interests rather than their popularity or sexuality (Pipher, 1994).
They are honest and open about talking to girls about those beliefs and values. They live according to those values. These role models can be teachers, mothers, or other significant women in a girl’s life.
Given the power behind the media and the negative messages about women that they send to our girls daily, we cannot be too assertive about sharing our views with our girls. They need us desperately at this point in their lives.
The culture in North America sends countless messages to girls to encourage them to pull away from their mothers and to become glamorous Barbie-like sex objects in a world that increasingly subjects them to abuse and takes away their voice. If we don’t intervene, who will? What will become of our daughters?
Media Power on Society – Celebrity Influence on Youth Culture
This documentary video explores the influence that celebrities have on the culture of our youth and how celebrity image is conveyed through youth identity.
For more information about conflict education and caring communities, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Free The Children, Conflict Education for Strong and Peaceful Minds. Available in both print and electronic versions!