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The World of Childhood and Media Influence Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2020

Personality development is an urgent problem in today’s social context because it not only brings good life opportunities to a person but also determines one’s happiness. How can one understand this term? The definition of personality development as a continual growth of personal qualities or characters creates interesting and attractive developments of personal traits, thus making a person become mentally powerful and, to some extent, generally assertive.

Looking for a more detailed answer, one would wish to research some philosophical or literal questions, in which personality performance enhances the development. Through the analysis of the youth issues contemplated as multifaceted problems under the performance grouping, this paper addresses the issue of beauty products as portrayed by the media and the effects on the youth’s or children’s growth or performance. It shows how the media influences children and teens to consumerism at a young age.

In the current social setting, the advertisements, television, movies, video games, and other computer technology are all interactive Media, which plays a great influence on most people, especially teenagers and children. The mass media has created a norm in our everyday lives, therefore we perceive the feature as one that we are not able to live without because of how easy and convenient it seems to surround our daily undertakings.

These mass media sells and promotes products or concepts, which seem to target the teens and children in the market primarily. Teens and children encounter these interactive media at a very young age meaning that the media can take control of young minds. The media thus creates favorable attitudes toward brands, which last well into adulthood. Good examples of this kind of exploration are the two popular magazines, Seventeen and New Moon, targeted for the teenage girls. However, these two magazines have many things that are similar but equally different in many ways. Both of these publications discuss the present things that girls face in the current social setting.

The magazines create great concerns on the establishment of recent media regarding children’s lives, and the settings can, therefore, change self-identity at a very young age. In Chapter ten of Growing Up Girls: Popular Culture and the Construction of Identity,” Durham Meenakshi Gigi, states that “ Media culture…has materials from which many people can construct their sense of class, ethnicity, race, nationality, sexuality, and personality. …

Media stories and images provide the symbols, myths, and resources, which help constitute common culture for the majority in various parts of the world” (Durham, 194). The media culture has a huge influence on the development of adolescent girls’ especially on the concepts of womanhood and woman-identity. This concept creates aloofness (cool) in children compared to the cute status. In line with Cross’s writing of the Cute and the Cool (130), as fed by signs of the children’s commercial culture, the problem came in when the parent’s vision of the cute was subverted by the child’s vision of the cool. The media is in charge of these social contractions, which they create as a performance category and end up affecting the development of the children. The effects occur on aspects pertaining to how they look at class, sexual orientations, and race in relation to their individual identity during the interaction with their peers and family members.

Teenagers and children develop their understanding of class at a very young age, especially due to the influence of the media. The two magazines, Seventeen and New Moon (1), show how the media give girls different perceptive about how they ought to dress, look, or act. These two magazines are targeting girls but in different ways. In the magazine called ‘Seventeen,’ the target falls on girls’ beauty issues, particularly about how their appearance should be with a close reference to celebrities as the role models, showing their latest trends on dressing, makeup, and hairdos.

These are the current social setting of an adult, particularly fashion designers who believe in the new present looks and performance of the girl child. When children and teenagers look at this magazine, they feel the need to be in a similar social class as their counterparts, and therefore for them to fit in such a social setting, they have to portray images like the models in the magazines. On the other hand, in New Moon magazine, the occurrences are quite different because they present a voice that empowers the girls to express their feelings through poetry, art, and mostly on their ability to build an educational environment, where self-esteem and positive body images are consistent.

New Moon gives girls the opportunity to express their feeling and perspective regarding certain topics, which they find to be troublesome or otherwise unhappy with. They have the opportunity to communicate with children of their age, which makes them feel part of the common class as their counterparts. For example, in Chapter five of Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global, Maria, and Soep says that (102),

What they saw available to them extended well beyond the borders of the market square; rather, these girls placed themselves socially (if not physically or economically) within a life where global models of female success (the good life) were not at odds with local models of “the good girl.” This than Sammy, or modern lifestyle, which combines elements of global, modern, and urban experiences, has come to signify “success” for these Thai girls. By associating themselves with global market (the beauty industry), with transnational businesses (such as Amway and Avon), and with a cash flow that extended outside of national borders, these girls were able to align themselves socially and financially with the larger, urban, “cosmopolitan” world.

The practices of the girls in Thai involve selling makeup as a way of engaging in the societal activities to fit in what seems to be the norm of the modern world and thus fit into the Western society. Maria and Soep states that (102), this redefinition is in part a way by which girls disassociated themselves from their “old” identities (as rural, Northern Thai, young, poor children) and connected themselves to their desired lives (as urban, cosmopolitan, middle-class woman) by projecting a persona-combined with the cash flow they had become part of, and mobility they had become part of, and mobility they had established-that allowed the girls socially to become part of an international economy.

The media is a source of changes to children and teenagers because it causes them to become a unique entity, not to themselves, but garner an identity that makes them more confident and fit into societal views.

Teenagers and children become aware of sexuality from social surroundings, friends, and family members around them. People give different sexuality views depending on the differences in cultural settings. In Durham’s article (197), “Growing Up Girls: Popular Culture and the Construction of Identity,” her point of view indicates her surprise and amazement for discovering that in Indian mass media, sexiness-by Western standards was not only admirable but actually reviled and abhorrent. Western societies find it easy and more sovereign to expose sexuality compared to other foreign countries. This kind of revelation can, however, influence how teens and children view themselves and others. As Durham indicates in her article (197),

I already knew about sex when we moved to India- I had learned all about it from my salacious sixth-grade friend, Christine, who had college-age siblings. I was also very confident about sexiness, which was, as far as I knew, an eminently admirable quality. This concept of “sex appeal” (a phrase I had acquired from Canadian TV commercials) involved trendy clothes-notably the miniskirts and tight tops of the period- and the other accouterments of feminizing comeliness I had learned about from television, Seventeen magazine, and Archie comic books.

An analysis of the content presented by the media indicates that teenagers and children have a different understanding of sexuality. The ‘Seventeen’ magazine shows different advertisements that show some more or less high amounts of sexuality. A good example of such content is the advertisements in the magazine meant to market Satin Care products. In the caption, it says,” He has three new excuses to touch your legs,” and the jungle is “Smooth, Sexy, Satin,” presented with an image of a boy touching a girl’s leg.

The image, caption, and pitiless situation from the advertisement show logic on issues regarding sexuality. Teens and children would believe that the product makes them get more skills in dating by buying the product. Other advertisements include sexual appeals in the way to dress using celebrities like Britney Spears advertising for Candies’ Outfits, showing her off in swimsuit, tracks, and short dress. In the magazine, it also shows different clothing commercials, with teenage girl models dressed in tight shirts and mini skirt.

These show how media portrays sexuality to teens and children. It is an indirect way of making a child’s vision of sexuality a cool aspect of social growth. Teens and children believe these beauty products make them become more attractive, like the celebrities who are involved in the marketing strategies, and worse still makes them attractive to their opposite genders. In Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global, Maria, and Soep (97), says that sellers of girls’ products indicate to their peers the emphasis over how the use of makeup leads others to view them as women rather than girls.

The marketing strategies portray an aspect indicating that the girls are or can be as desirable as the actresses and models they see in the media, and especially gain attractiveness to members of the opposite sex. The media thus makes them active consumers in a booming international economy of beauty products (Maria and Soep, 97). In the ‘Seventeen’ magazine, there is one article called “I’m addicted to bad boys,” which is about a real experience from a teenage girl on issues regarding her sexual life, the problems she faced and how she solved them.

This presents the feeling of how clangers of sexuality ought to be like and tell other teenagers not to make the same mistakes. This article already shows the real-life problem of teens exposure to sexuality at a very young age. Sexuality has caused children to be concern about their body images, as mentioned in New Moon magazine. Children and teens questions the reasons and concern about body change and, New Moon magazines give them opportunities to voice their needs and share experiences.

Children and teenagers understand race from their own culture and from the influence of the western culture portrayed in the media. Children and teenagers born in foreign countries are different from children in Western societies because of cultural differences. Therefore, in order for these children to fit the norm, the markets deceive them into believing that reconstructing their cultural identity would help. In Durham article, she explains that

My life has been lived as a process of deconstructing ethnic and gendered anthologizes to try to reconstruct my own, particularly in adolescence. This was especially true of my dealings with mass media discourses and images throughout the girlhood stage, where I spent my time moving back and forth from Canada, India, and the United States…As a young girl, I came face to face with myths and models of womanhood that shaped my entire concept of personality.

In the ‘Seventeen’ magazine, most of the models in the advertisement are white or blonde. This shows the perception of the universal child and the general societal view of fashion, which has a negative influence on children. Therefore, most Western culture described in the media uses the universal child because it fits the norm. The teen magazines play a vital role in marketing and selling the cosmetics to girls and teens, however, when children and teenagers of a different skin complexion from the white or blond see these images, the feeling affects the way they perceive their personalities (Sundra et al.). They probably end up asking why they do not look like these models in the media, thus making them not feel reminiscent of the cultures.

They also suffer because they feel unfit with the norm of how they ought to be like. In Chapter five of Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global, Maria, and Soep indicates that (96-97), like many others, the cosmetic companies are a huge attraction to most Baan Khmer girls because they deceive them of the beauty products using the underlying massages. They use the products in the hope of fulfilling the hopes and desires the media portrays. The product marketing styles promise the girls chances of engaging in international association with recognition of unique and celebrity beauty culture. They get a feeling that they have chances of increasing personal cultural capital, thus giving them international or cosmopolitan corporate identity.

The makeup products presented in the markets are a link between the perception of the buyers who, in most cases, hails from the village setting and the cosmopolitan city lifestyle. This link faces high exploitation by the successful Amway and Suprederm distributors who have wide and great skills in phrasing/praising the beauty products by depicting the youthful westernized or urbanized nature. The products crest similar looks as those Western celebrities such as pop or movie stars. The marketing of these products occurs in such styles to serve as a change to society.

The trans-national beauty products provide a platform for boosting the individual interests for the westernized form of beauty. The products equally serve as a perpetual chance for the desired growth towards a westernized appearance of attractiveness. The beauty products and other different trendy products help to form a connection between teens and children of different skin complexions to fit in the Western culture (Hargrave and Livingstone).

In conclusion, the media has a huge influence on the way children and youth development, especially in terms of class, sexuality, and race. Popular media is instrumental in this normalizing process, playing a strong ideological role as they construct the topics and concepts that they present. In Durham’s article, Elizabeth Frazer’s work with teenage girls to reveal that they accept media versions of girls’ lives as more legitimate than their own lives (Durham, 195). The culture presented in the mass media has already dominated the childhood development of many children and youth alike in today’s society, thus changing the childhood to adulthood development pattern.


Critical Skills Research Component

Hargrave, M A and Livingstone, S. “Harm and Offence in Media Content.” Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.Print.

The book presents a critical analysis of various media in today’s society and the potential of harm to children. It gives recent research and examples of the effects. It is equally a scrutiny over the functions of the mass media and how it targets various categories, especially children and teens in the society, using celebrities, jingles, colorful images, and attractive products to get their attention. However, the author argues that the empowerment of the media in the current social setting would raise questions over the evident negative effects like pornography and violence, which are hard to prevent children from, especially in the current technologically advanced era.

This book relates to my essay topic because of the picture portrayed regarding the mass media and its influence on children and teens. It clearly addresses the issue of consumerism at a young age, with the aim of gaining customer loyalty. It represents issues such as the massive amount of media content that encounters a child’s development and brainwashes them at a very young age, thus causing negative effects in the overall growth. As depicted by the book, mass media represents the effects of social aspects and the influence over children’s behaviors as individuals.

Sandra L., Calvert, A. B., Jordan, and Rodney R. C. “Children in a Digital Age.” Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2002.Print.

This book is a collection of different essays by different authors that present the latest research findings and examples on issues regarding children’s addiction to the interactive media and various changes in the media environments in the past decades concerning the effects on the child. The collection brings out a variety of studies and reviews about the topic of concerns regarding the influences in their lives.

These collections of essays form an agreement over how children are spending too much time interacting with the media, which in most cases, causes more harm than good because they are likely to come into contact with harmful content. A high percentage of the content has a negative influence on the social and emotional growth of the child, thus the wide differences over the shaping of the child’s identity and development of the relationships between them and their peers as well as family members.

The book relates to my essay topic because of the various analysis presented by the media regarding social edifices, especially in relation to the development of children to the point of becoming an independent person. The essays in the book present an in-depth understanding of the historical development of a child in various eras and the changes involving the environment of the media. It clarifies the similarities and differences of children over a certain period, especially on issues regarding the cultural changes and advances.

Works Cited

Cross, G. S. “Cute and the Cool: Wondrous Innocence and Modern American Children’s Culture.” Gremlin Child: How the Cute Became the Cool, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.Print.

Durham, Gigi Meenakshi.Growing Up Girls: Popular Culture and the Construction of Identity.” Out of the Indian Diaspora: Mass Media, Myths of Feminity, and the Negotiation of Adolescence between Two Cultures, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, 1999. Print.

Magazine, Seventeen (2010) Hearst Communications, Inc.Web.

Maira, S, and Soep, E. Youthscapes: “The Popular, the National, the Global.” Pennsylvania: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.Print.

Teen Magazine, New Moon Girl Media. Web.

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