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In spite of being a very important tool of information dissemination, media has also played a significant negative role in affecting teenage girls and women.
The media industry across the world has developed numerous entertainment programs and shows, which portray female characters in different body forms and sizes in diverse dress codes. The impression created in the minds of the many teenage girls and women, who remain glued on the television for many hours remains imprinted permanently in their minds during the repeated airing of the programs and the shows.
In the context of dressing and fashions, many teenage girls and women copy what they seen on the television programs and some dressing codes are provocative, dehumanizing and portray no respect. On the other hand, big-bodied characters in television shows and films are unsuccessful, look ugly, atrocious and unpleasing, which creates a bad picture and poor perception of the big-bodied persons thus influencing the eating habits of ‘fat’ women and girls.
Propagation of immorality among teenage girls by the media is indescribable. Some television programs and music dancing styles are full of suggestive language, actions, and scenes unfit for teenage girls viewing. These facts among others confirm that, media negatively affects teenage girls and women.
Negative effects of media on teenage girls and women
Although media continues to play a significant role in economic development, education, information dissemination, entertainment and in many other positive aspects of development, it has also negatively influenced the behaviour of teenage girls and women. Especially on the issue of body image, movies, television programs, and magazines portray thin body sizes as the ideal body size and shape. Highly rewarding television programs such as role modelling, television stars and female athletes have delusive thin bodies.
Koyuncu, Tok, Canpolat and Catikkas posit, “…there is increasingly thin idea dominating the media across movies, magazines and television programs… thinness is consistently emphasized and rewarded for women”(2010, p.56). The perception of thin bodies as the ideal body figure influences self-esteem and teenage girls and women tend to associate thinness to attractiveness and beauty, as always is the case in all media programs.
Moreover, Koyuncu et al. are concerned that, “…repeated exposure to media content leads to begin to accept media portrayals as representation of reality” (2010, p.56). The repetition of the media shows where thin-bodied actresses perform superiorly over the heavy bodied actresses, leaves an impression of dissatisfaction with body image to the heavy bodied and a feeling of worthiness to the thin bodied teenage girls and women.
Media perception of slimmer females as more attractive, pleasing, and appeasing leads to subsequent changes in behaviour of many teenage girls and women especially on dieting, engorging and barfing, all aimed at losing weight in order to attain a body image portrayed in a media show.
Portrayal of self-esteem hinged on thin body size, is confounding and Grabe, Hyde and Ward observe that the thinness portrayed as the ideal and central to attractiveness is unattainable leading to teenage girls and women turning the meal skipping to achieve the media slim standards (2008, p. 96). These slimness perceptions in the media are misguided, as most of them are computer manipulated hence unattainable and in the quest to achieving them leads to meals skipping which degenerates into health problems.
The most damaging part of the media on the teenage girls and women is the exposure of sexual content in many television programs, shows, and magazines. The media as turned to be a rich source of sexual information to many teenage girls who remain hooked up in the television for long hours.
According to Collins, Martinos, and Elliott, repeated exposure of sexual materials influences the preceding changes in adolescence sexual behaviours; “…growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to sexual content in media may affect adolescence sexual behaviour and related outcomes” (2011, p. 178). Presentation of teenage girls in media programs as successful, rich, sexy and wearied by education sends a negative impression to the teens watching the program and they are brainwashed to believe on the sentiments aired.
Teenage girls may believe the shows on television to be reality and may practise what they saw leading to sexual initiation and indulgence and prostitution at young age ruining their lives. Some end up dropping from school simply because they see someone, bored by education, leave school only to become rich via prostitution.
On drug abuse and alcoholism, frequent shows in media portray actors sinking in the pool of drug abuse and alcoholism. Cin, Gerrard, Wills, Worth, Stoomiller and Sargent are concerned that, “…most movie drinkers are portrayed positively, with the negative consequences of alcohol use portrayed infrequently” (2009, p.37).
Repeated dissemination of biased information not touching on both sides of the effects of alcohol use, leads to misconception of the truth about alcoholism; therefore, teens may copy the behaviour. If taken as a learning tool, the teens may believe the information from the media about alcoholism, which is misleading. Drug abuse and alcoholism may significantly affect the health of the teenage girls subsequently causing total addiction and dependence.
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Many teenage girls and women get the wrong perception on love either within marriage or in a relationship. Most teenage girls and women love soap operas especially Mexican soap operas. Unknowingly to many, the kind of love portrayed in these wittily orchestrated soaps only exists on television.
In reality, marriage or relationship for that matter is ‘hectic’; it needs time, resources and above all personal sacrifice. Unfortunately, many women and teenage girls expect to experience such kind of love in their relationships and marriages only to be disappointed.
Many other factors play a role in negatively affecting teenage girls and women but the media has played the greatest role in negatively influencing the behaviour of teenage girls and women. Teenage girls and women spend quality time hooked up on the television programs in which their favourite programs continue to portray and send unrealistic impressions about the supposedly ‘ideal’ lifestyles.
Impressions depicted by the media on life issues especially in dressing, drug abuse, morality, body image, family life and personal esteem changes significantly following repeated exposure of teenage girls and women to ‘negative’ media and this is a confirmation that, media negatively affects teenage girls and women.
Cin, S. et al. (2009). Watching and drinking. Health Psychology, 28(4), 33-47.
Collins, R., Martinos, S., & Elliott, M. (2011). Propensity scoring and the relationship Between sexual media and adolescence sexual behaviour. Developmental Psychology, 47(2), 170-179.
Grabe, S., Hyde, J., & Ward, M. (2008). The role of the media in body image Concerns among women. Psychology Bulletin, 134(3), 94-98.
Koyuncu, M. et al. (2010). Body image satisfaction and dissatisfaction, social physique Anxiety, self-esteem, and body fat ration in female exercisers and non-exercisers. Social behaviour and personality, 38(4), 55-57.
- Information dissemination involves the dispersion or spreading of information and making them widely known.
- Provoke means to stimulate, rouse, or excite an emotion of some one.
- The aspect of immorality tackle here involves the sexual immorality.
- Delusive bodies are extremely thin and slim body sizes unrealistic to achieve in slimming and weight loss exercises.
- Self-esteem involves the feeling of pride about oneself.
- Engorging signifies overeating or eating immodestly leading to overweight
- Sentiments are the views or opinions put across.
- Alcoholism in this context refers to drunkenness and alcohol addiction.
- Hectic because marriage is not bliss, it requires management and ‘working out’ for it to work out well. Women getting in marriage not expecting hurt and disappointment miss the mark from the beginning and when the reality sets in, divorce becomes the easy way out.