In considering the effects of the media on the younger generation, it is just as vital to philosophize about the emergence of both violent corruption and ethical morality in the media as it is to test and study the trends of the population. Developing a personal theory about how children are affected by mass media should always be open to being proved or disproved by research and other opinions. There are so many aspects of the current media which one could term disturbing, harmful, and disrespectful. For many people, going to see a film, turning on the radio, or watching television often entails being swept into a fear driven and anxiety producing wave of images and sounds. However, it is also good to note the positive programs available to the general public, as many media are voicing and displaying moral, passionate, and peaceful songs and stories.
What theorists and researchers may want to consider is how the media affects people positively and negatively and how personal choice must be sustained in all aspects of life, including the decision to hear or watch particular music or shows. In categorizing media as having constructive or destructive influences on the younger generation, it is vital to make these considerations within the context of the ability to make free choices. The option of engaging in either healthy or harmful activities may need to rest in the hands of each individual citizen and not be stripped away from the person by government officials who are ready to write a socialized rulebook. Theorizing about the effects of the media on the human population can be tested well through the use of methods such as surveys distributed and completed by a large sample of individuals, and the right to libertarian ideals such as free choice can also be included.
A modern trend in filmmaking is displaying sexuality as something brutal, fleeting, and impersonal, not at all related to romance, commitment, and procreation, lending credibility to the idea that media are able to negatively affect young people. The recent film Sex and the City is chock full of example where both men and women are so loosely committed and respectful to one another that they have no problem using one another and ignoring the naturally romantic and procreative language of the body. This twisted sense of sexuality permeates not only this film, with its shocking displays of unfaithfulness, casual and temporary use of another person, selfishness, and silliness, but also many aspects of popular culture. The trend of a decade such as the 1950s was ripe with respect for the family unit, genuine knowledge of working marriages and natural gender roles, and devotion to romance, love, God, family, children, and commitment. The modern trend of the new century are a people lax in ethical awareness, overly focused on money and individuality, and easily influenced to forget family responsibilities and gender and procreative related ethics. Some theorists and researchers such as Brown et al. are concerned with whether or not teenagers are influenced by the media to engage in early sexual behaviors and support the idea that media does in fact contribute to early sexual activity (2006). However, perhaps more important is the concern that there is a tendency in modern media to portray sex a game of conquest without thought to romance, commitment, gender roles and responsibilities, and procreativity.
On the contrary, there are television programs that actively and continuously promote ethical behaviors and a general sense of morality in regard to loving and devoted romance and sexual encounters. The Marriage Works program on EWTN celebrates the passionate and healthy marital embrace and helps to encourage couples to work out their problems and find joy through commitment, perseverance, and love. These ethical values are still very apparent in some modern programming and can be treasured by viewers who are in search of meaningful and constructive outlets and social support. Some theorists and researchers such as Bragg et al. provide insight into the idea that although some media can negatively affect the younger generation, there is an availability of positive programming that can be chosen and accessed by the general public (2004). Television programs such as Marriage Works may often seem to serve as islands of ethics in seas of corruption. However, opting to place faith and energy in media that actively entertains the idea of deep sense of human worth and meaning is a way for individuals and families to stay focused on healthy paths. The personal option to immerse oneself in constructive ideology and activity is one that can have a significant positive influence on the health and growth of individuals. Teenagers may benefit from deciding to spend their time and energy in building up their level of intelligence, faith, and trust, buoyed by the supportive atmosphere that is created by moral programming.
The idea of regulation and government interference as opposed to the right to liberty and free choice is always present in social discourse and politics. When considering the potentially harmful effects of the media on young people, some people jump to the conclusion that government officials must be hired and organized to help stop or restrict the business and market which caters to producing and consuming unethical programs. Banning or filtering music, films, and television has been an idea of many people who aim to seek safety within the protection of government oversight. However, when implementing political plans to regulate enterprises, it is essential to consider what is lost. There is a direct correlation between government interference and the ability of citizens to make free choices regarding their own personal participation in business. When politicians make the decisions, individuals are stripped of their ability to act from the perspective of their own unique consciences. Retaining the right to free choice enables citizens to decide for themselves which media companies will enjoy the benefit of their consumer dollars, and industries are then regulated by free enterprise as opposed to a few elected officials. Perhaps it is better for each consumer to retain the vote of one’s dollar rather than turn over the responsibility for self regulation over to another person. Government can only serve society to a certain degree before they begin assuming liberties which don’t belong to them.
It is vital to consider the somewhat controversial claim that some people must certainly see the benefit or reasoning in sustaining and promoting violent programming in mass media. Some researchers such as Trend contend that the presence of violence in the media is a direct relation to a human need to be exposed to violent behaviors and activities (2007). Since so many violent songs, films, and television programs are aired to viewers, there is the reasonable theory that an eager market influences business and is willing and ready to be immersed in violent programming. Although this programming can be termed immoral and destructive, one can also say that people are catering to some kind of a present human need by engaging in the more violent elements of society. If there were no need for hearing and viewing violence, then there would be no market. Linked to this view is the idea that it is actually business, corporations, which negatively influence the market. The idea of violence as being promoted by big business may seem like a shrugging off of personal responsibility for sustaining a violent trend in the media, however it makes sense for individuals to consider the idea that maybe something bigger than themselves is orchestrating a culture of death, harm, and disrespect. Whether violence is sustained by the consumers or promoted by CEOs is difficult to mark accurately, however further consideration and study should be granted to the meaning of and responsibility for violent media. Perhaps the desire for exposure to violence is a personal one. However, there remains the possibility that top corporations encourage the craving for violence in consumers. Either way, teens need to be aware of the possibility that they may feel tempted to engage in or be exposed to violent media and to make personal considerations about what this means for them and their life decisions.
The general idea that human behavior is generally improving and becoming increasingly moral is one held by many theorists and researchers, although modern society seems to have hit a recent glitch. Looking to the great battles and historical injustices that have been overcome supports the idea that humanity enjoys a rising from the depths of immorality in favor of ethics. However, it would be reasonable to consider that human society has recently encountered a back slide in moral behavior. Although over long periods of time, it appears that human behavior has become increasingly civil, the past several decades have experienced great controversy and the disintegration of family values. Some people contend that modern behavior which undermines social justice is directly related to capitalism and the influence of corporate initiatives to influence the mass market to be silly, stupid, and ridden with anxieties, coercing people to buy into the next quick fix. The use of the general public as terrified bait for big business sharks is not altogether irrational. However, in assuming personal responsibility for oneself, it is vital for young people to be shrewd and aware, to see the games, lures, and tricks which are presented by unethical people and to steer clear of them. The best thing which families can do to restore ethics in our modern world and to help future generations is to cast away naivete and to raise children who are smart and informed about the ways in which they can nurture themselves and their loved ones. The new generation certainly has the option and ability to avoid the detrimental effects of certain aspects of society and promote a culture of love, life, and liberty.
Bragg, S. & Buckingham, D. (2004). Young People, Sex and the Media: the facts of life? Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Brown, J., L’Engle, K., Pardun, C., Guo, G., Kenneavy, K., & Jackson, C. (2006). Sexy Media Matter: Exposure to Sexual Content in Music, Movies, Television, and Magazines Predicts Black and White Adolescents’ Sexual Behavior. Pediatrics 117(4), 1018-1027.
Marriage Works. (2009). EWTN.
Sex and the City. (2008). King, M., Parker, S., & Star, D.
Trend, D. (2007). The myth of media violence: a critical introduction. Wiley-Blackwell.