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Does media play a role in distorting the values of young people?

“Children learn how to deal with relationships by what they see on TV. They see people having casual sex and using obscenity-laden language… I don’t see how it could possibly be good for kids.” – Faye Steuer, professor of psychology at Charleston College (Charleston Post and Courier, August 25, 2005)


More than a year ago, a  13-year-old boy shot his 16-year-old friend inside a mall then killing himself . So tragic and unbelievable. It just broke my heart for someone so young to feel so much despair.

Did the boy even get the chance to talk to someone much wiser about his emotional problems? People were quick to blame the security of the mall.

Someone points out it is possible that media “played a role in distorting the values of young people to lead them to over-the-top emotionalism and a hunger for ultimate acts of drama for the sake public attention or impact? ”

With media and access to the internet available to everyone, the process of maturation has completely changed — if not accelerated at breakneck pace. Change in the world today has become reckless and there is no stopping the endless shifts of trends and fashions. Media and the worldwide web play major roles in the everyday lives of almost everyone especially the young. What kids see and hear and absorb shape how they think, feel and react to circumstances in their awkward developmental years.

I knew the dangers of technology that enters a young kid’s lives when internet arrived in our household in 1996. Media whether it be TV or the internet has an impact on the behavior and development of children. The amount of sex and violence on TV today dwarfs what was on when I was a kid. Can we blame media? There are things we cannot control but we as parents can surely control the TV and internet time of our kids. Most kids tune into the world of television long before they enter school. I do not know the circumstances of the kids involved in the malls shooting incident. I believe too much of anything is bad for our children and that means being tuned to TV , gadgets or internet for long periods of time.

There are other activities to distract our children and this includes a board game, a game of hide and seek, playing outside, reading, working on crafts or hobbies, or listening and dancing to music. The possibilities for fun without the TV and computer is endless.

TV and the world wide web is full of stories and commercials that depict risky behaviors such as sex and substance abuse as cool, fun, and exciting. A discussion about the consequences of drinking alcohol, doing drugs, smoking cigarettes, and having premarital sex is always a good idea.

I took it as my responsibility to monitor content of TV programming and internet time and set viewing limits to ensure that my kids did not spend too much time on it.

It is worrisome thinking about other children and the negative effect of media on their emotions and behavior.

Does media play a role in distorting the values of young people? So what can we do? Parents, educators and relevant government agencies can work together to minimize the negative effects of media and at the same time celebrate the positive aspects.

The blame game is utterly useless now. Action starts in our own homes.

“I really believe that we do damage children by the messages we show them when they’re too young.”- Marshall Herskovitz, co-executive producer of Thirtysomething

1 thought on “Does media play a role in distorting the values of young people?”

  1. What happened with those boys was a tragedy.
    I truly believe media plays a big influence on kids today and with the pace in technology, parents like me can’t keep up! The challenge is how to balance their use and exposure to media and keep things age-appropriate in my household, “rated PG”, and communication lines are always open. And yes, everything starts at home.

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