Media plays a major role in the shaping of behavior. Owing to the fact that there are a lot of information and interesting aspects of various types of the media, they influence the general perception, views and behavior of people while using them, especially the children. The contents of media instruments vary from the print media, published media, and television to the social media. Thus, these instruments, which are frequently adopted as part of daily life, especially by the young, should be thoroughly examined. Due to this adoption, the parents’ role as models for the children declined since the youngsters are copying a lot of modes of behavior from the media. With the increase in commitment and busy schedules, there is less time for current families to spend together. Furthermore, nowadays each family member has their own telephone, music player, computer, television among other technological devices. It therefore means that the children have gotten less time to spend with their parents, but spend more time inclined to the media. Their attention has now been diverted to watching televisions, surfing through the Internet and exploring the information presented in most means of the media. The trend of vast exposure can be unguarded and excessive, especially due to lack of the guidance from the parents. To a large extent, the watching and interaction with the media considerably influence the behavior of the youth and their thinking (Dill, 2009).
In the United States of America, most children spend nearly two to four hours watching television. This habit is bound to change as the underage grow older. Children are usually the target consumers of the media. They get excited and are constantly interested in various contents. The reason is that the media gives them to the contemporary world and cause wonder and excitement in their lives. A varied range of media materials offer diverse information to the youngsters. The media has grown to a great fighter for the heart and the mind of the children as opposed to all the other factors. The media has gained the status of the youth’s second parent as children spend most of their time with the media rather than with their parents.
The media has a number of impacts that have educative role in the underage development. It is an influence that adds value to their lives and helps them to learn a lot about life and environment in general. Moreover, it provides with the information that the youngsters would not have gotten easily from other sources and in an interesting way.
The media offers children an opportunity for learning. There are some programs and shows that have continued to offer educative values to minors such as the Sesame Street, Blue’s Clues, Barney and Teletubbies. The older children have also been educated in programs like Zoboomafoo, Cyberchase and Zoom on the information concerning scientific facts. Other cable channels that offer educative information to middle-aged children include the Discovery, The Animal Planet and Learning Channel which offer a lot of educational materials to the youth. These educative channels have a great impact on the lives of children as they adopt what they learn from the programs. What is more, those who are not native English speakers can learn to speak English through the channels that they watch. A show like Barney imparts the knowledge of English to minors, thus, makes it easier for them to learn it when they finally join schools (Devore, 1994).
Programs in the Discovery, National Geographic and Animal Planet are informative as the teenagers get to know more about animals that they have never seen, places that are interesting and unusual things people do in other places. Through these programs the youth visualize animals and places and gain an understanding of the theories that are often incomprehensible at classrooms.
Pro-social behavior learning envisages learning of positive aspects of behavior from another person. The learning is largely based on observation. There are a lot of programs that are designed to help children learn a lot about the social behavior, namely helping others, sharing other societal values. The programs help children understand how to tackle problems that they encounter in the outer world like in the community and at the schools. Minors watching the art aspect in the Sesame Street get the idea to practice the same using crayons during their art classes. These pro-social programs have been proven to have a positive change in youth behavior, especially when playing, therefore increasing their altruism. The younger children are also bound to adopt good behaviors because they are usually easier taught than the older ones (Roberts & Foehr, 2004).
Despite having positive effects, the media has a number of bad influences on the underage. Such effects are acquired by the youth as a result of constant uncontrollable access to the media.
Children are always bound to acquire new modes of behavior and traits not from their parents but from role models that they constantly watch in the media. Due to this imitation, they have body deformations and eating disorders. Most young girls think that they should be on diet because most magazines and television programs show thin girls whose body shape they could inherit from their parents. Youngsters, therefore, tend to copy everything from their favorite models and characters. As a consequence, girls force themselves to starve in order to be thin. This is said to start at the age of eight because there are a lot of role models in cartoons such as superheroes and characters in video games which influence children.
Most commercials pursue the aim of giving the young people a lot of enthusiasm through entertainment. However, they disregard the harmful consequences the programs may have. The youth, who are vulnerable to media risk, get exposed to advertisements that are aimed only at the adults. The most detrimental are cigarette and liquor commercials. Such types of advertisements are usually designed to be attractive to the young people. What is more, a lot of movies watched by youngsters contain scenes of smoking or drinking people. Consequently, this creates negative impact on the lives of minors watching movies (Mendelson, 1974).
The media has a lot of positive and negative effects on children. The preset world has seen technological advancement and changes which have increased the minors’ exposure to the mass media. It is the responsibility of the parents to ensure that the underage watch the right programs. All these negative aspects can be overcome through proper supervision and monitoring of what the youths watch and have access to in the media.