Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook are all popular social media platforms that many teenagers use daily. Teens are constantly posting what they are doing, what they are wearing, and how great their lives are. The media changes the way that people interact and see each other. There are many benefits of media such as being in touch with friends, keeping up with the latest news, and many more; however, most people do not see how these social media sites can also have severe consequences. The media negatively affects teens’ actions, body image, and health.
The media has affected teens’ actions in several ways. The media promotes violence in many different forms. In video games, the way to win is to punch, kick, or even kill an opponent. In movies, the good guy even wins by violently defeating an enemy (Monica 2). If teens see a lot of violence in movies and video games, it can affect the way they act in real life. Many people believe that kids that play a lot of violent video games are more likely to act violently later in life. Media does not accurately portray violence in real life, so teenagers can think that it is okay to act violently in public (Raising Children 1). When teens start acting violently in public, it can cause problems that follow them for the rest of their lives.
Social media has changed the way people communicate with each other. Before Instagram, Snapchat, and text messaging, teens were more likely to talk on the phone or hang out in person. Today, teens are continuously on their phones texting, snapchatting, liking, sharing, or scrolling. Although this does not seem like a big deal, when teenagers talk to each other in person, they are interacting and learning communication skills that they will need their entire life. “Modern teens are learning to do most of their communicating while looking at a screen, not another person” (Ehmke 2). When teens get used to not talking to people in person, they do not develop social skills.*** Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, a clinical psychologist, says, “In a way, texting and communicating- it’s not like it creates a nonverbal learning disability, but it puts everybody in a nonverbal disabled context, where body language, facial expression, and even the smallest kinds of vocal reactions are rendered invisible” (Ehmke 2). Without these communication and social skills, teens are afraid to face their problems they have with other people. It is easier for teens to keep their guards up while texting. They do not immediately see they affect their words on the other person because they are not hearing or seeing them (Ehmke 4). Since they are not having this conversation in person, each party has more time to consider a more reasoned response. Teenagers that always have conversations over text message tend to be afraid of having conversations in person where that have to answer immediately.
Cyberbullying is very common between teenagers on social media. The definition of cyberbullying is using electronic communication to send messages of intimidation or threats. To the bully, cyberbullying has no consequences (Ramasubbou 2). The bully does not see the reaction of the victim; therefore, the bully does not see how they are doing anything wrong. Some teens tend to hide behind their social media accounts, posting things about others that they would not say to their face. Young adults will now post things on facebook or instagram about someone, but they will not use their name. Instead, they will pretend that their post was not about anybody specific. The person being bullied knows that it is about them, and the bully will not own up to it. The impact of cyberbullying can go as far as the victim taking their own life.
Media can change the way teenagers act and behave. The media often shows risky or unhealthy behavior like drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. Today, there are pictures and videos of teenagers drinking, smoking, or doing crazy things all over Instagram and Snapchat. Teens are more susceptible to what the media tells them to do and what is “cool.” Teenagers do these things because they think it makes them seem cooler to other teenagers, and it gets them attention from people. When people start smoking or drinking at a young age, they can develop addictions and habits in attempt to be happy. A study by the RAND Corporation shows that teens are twice as likely to have sex or engage in other sexual activities if they see similar behavior in the media (Monica 3). When movies or TV shows portray sexual activities, young adults will think it is okay to go and do these things no matter what they have been told by their parents.
The media can affect how much money families spend on things like clothes and toys. Advertisements are everywhere and have a huge impact on what people buy. One article states that “children age 12 and under convince their parents to spend more than $500 million a year” (Monica 2). Advertisements play a large part in this; kids will see commercials and think they have got to have whatever it is. They will continuously beg their parents until they finally give in. The media and apps like Instagram can dictate clothing styles and trends. Many teens, mainly girls, choose their clothing styles by what they seen “popular kids” and celebrities wearing.
Body image is defined as “the way a person perceives themselves when they look in the mirror,” says the World of Psychology (How Does Media ?). Today, there are more “mirrors” than ever before. Social media is one of the main mirrors that teens use to compare themselves to others. Apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook provide teenagers with a constant stream of pictures and videos that depict people in their best, living perfect lives. This provides teens with tools that allow them to earn approval for their appearance and compare themselves to others (Simmons 1). Teenagers are constantly posting so they feel accepted and can get approval from others. Author of ….. Says, “thanks to many free apps, teens can alter their bodies in pictures with just swipe of their finger to become prettier, thinner, and hotter” (Simmons 2). Girls use these apps to conform their bodies to what they see as the social norm. Teenagers will criticize every detail of a photo before posting because they are afraid of what others will think. Doing this can make girls view themselves differently and feel inadequate. Researches say that teens that spend most their time posting, commenting, and comparing themselves to photos are the most affected ones (Simmons 1). One 16 year said , “I think it affects teens subconsciously just seeing how many likes they get and how much attention they get for how they look.” (Simmons 2). According to Child Mind Institute the expectations that teens strive to meet reach dangerous levels in college. As college students move off to new places without many friends, the standards for achievement are even higher, and young people will look for acceptance wherever they can find it. The media can make being worshipped for beauty more important than scholarships, school, or actually living their life.
Many teenage girls strive to attain the beauty trends they see on social media. The “thigh gap” and “bikini bridge” are apart of these social media trends. A thigh gap is a space between a person’s thighs when they are standing with their legs together. The bikini bridge is a term for the space between a girls bathing suit bottom and hip bones when lying down. These sought-after characteristics often have nothing to do with weight and more with body shape. These trends became popular through “thinspiration” on Pinterest and Tumblr; this involves sharing photos of women who posses these so-called physical ideals. Thinspiration can often lead to unhealthy eating habits in an effort to become thin enough to have a thigh gap or bikini bridge.
The media also has a huge impact on males’ body image. Teenage boys compare themselves to the six-pack abs, tall, acne- free guys they see in the media (Zeigar 3). Doing this can lower boys self-esteem and make them feel less confident, just like in girls. Teenage boys will push themselves working out to impress girls and be like other hotter or more popular guys. Boys can become self-conscious and develop unhealthy eating habits in the same way that girls do. Some even want plastic surgery, such as soft tissue fillers, to achieve these body image ideals (Raising Children 1).
Stereotypes are common in how teens are portrayed in the media. Many of these stereotypes show women as too thin and men as extremely muscular (Monica 2). TV Characters are often shown with “perfect” bodies. Some common stereotypes that teens try to live up to include the popular cheerleader or the hot football player. In high school, when teenagers do not fit into these stereotypes, they feel like they do not belong.
Although not as popular as social media, magazines, movies and billboards also have an impact on how teenagers view themselves. Photographs in magazines and billboards are edited on the computer to erase flaws and imperfections (Monica 2). Teenagers see these photos and desire to look like the people in them. Most teens take in digitally altered images from movies and magazines with a critical eye; it is a little harder for teens to do this with social media. Even if teenagers know what they are seeing is not normal or real, it can still impact them.
The phsyical ideals of media cause many teengers to change their body through dieting. Each year, thousands of teenagers conform to an image created by the media through diet and exercise (Ziegar 1). Many teenagers diet incorrectly or for the wrong reasons; most are trying to change their body quickly for them to impress someone. The National Eating Disorders Association says, “over 70% of articles on weight loss in teen magazines claimed attractiveness as a reason for needing to lose weight” (Zeigar 2). When teenagers lose weight quickly or do not diet correctly, it can cause health problems.
The media affects teens health in many different aspects. One health problem resulting from media is obesity. Obesity typically comes from people spending too much time on their phone or watching tv instead of being active. One article says, “people that watch more than 2 hours of television each day have a higher chance of being obese” (Monica 1). People tend to eat more when watching TV than those sitting at the table because the TV distracts them from feeling full (Monica 2). The key to preventing obesity is getting enough exercise and eating healthy.
Eating disorders are very common in today’s teens. Anorexia and Bulimia are two types of eating disorders that can have a long term effect on a person’s physical and emotional health. Several causes of eating disorders in teens are results of social media. An article states, “eating disorders are caused by the desire to achieve an impossible standard to feel accepted and in control” (How Does Media ?). Low self-esteem, feeling inadequate, lack of control, perfectionist tendencies, and being judged based on size can contribute to developing an eating disorder. There is a constant pressure for girls to obtain unreachable physical appearances through social media. When females see themselves as bigger than they actually are, known as body dysmorphia, it can cause them to want to lose weight. Advertisements can make them think wrong eating habits are okay.Teenage girls typically want to drastically change the way they look in a short amount of time. Thinspiration causes many teens to want to lose weight in unhealthy ways. Someone with an eating disorder can see photos of thinspiration and view it as a challenge, furthering unhealthy eating habits. Bone structure and body type can also prevent young girls from reaching their social media-influenced goals in a healthy way. The more time spent on social media websites, the highest chances teens have for developing a negative body image or eating disorder.
Anxiety and depression are serious results of how the media affects teens’ mental health. Vernon says, “around 80% of children in the United States have an anxiety disorders, and 60% with depression go untreated” (Vernon 2). Social media plays a large role in the rates of anxiety and depression in today’s world. Researchers found that teenagers who use social media and were emotionally invested had poor sleep quality and higher rates of anxiety and depression (Vernon 2). New research says, that the pressure for teens to be on social media 24 hours a day can lead to anxiety and other health problems (Vernon 1). For most teens, they are afraid of missing out on what others are doing; therefore, they are continuously on their phones and social media to be included. When people do not automatically reply to comments or texts, it can increase anxiety. Teens that spend a lot of time on social media sites can develop an emotional disturbance called “Facebook Depression.” Research has found that the association of social media and health problems are particularly strong in teens who use social media at night (Vernon 2). Social media outlets provide pictures and news that have become the first thing teens see in the morning and the last thing seen before bed.
Media negatively affects teens’ actions, body image, and health. Although there are many benefits of the media, it is also harming teens. Media can make teenagers act violently later in life, influence them to drink or smoke weed, and