Mass Media's Impact on Teens

Mass Media's Impact on Teens

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The Mass Media according to the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia 2000
is defined as the primary means by which information and entertainment
are delivered to the public. The term is usually used to refer to
newspaper, television, radio and Internet sources.

The Mass Media is perceived by many to have a great impact on
teenagers but it is not always verifiable whether this impact is one
that enhances or negates the total development of teenagers.

The researcher is specifically narrowing this focus however on the
teenagers in Southfield with the hope of seeing the extent to which
the Mass Media impacts on these teenagers, the nature of this impact
(if it exists), the different media forms which have an effect on them
and ways in which these media forms can further facilitate their


The sources from which information was gathered for this research were
the Internet, Encyclopaedia, a survey and an interview.

According to the website Student Central: Media Effects on Adolescent
Development 2002, for over twodecades, the mass media including
television, music, Internet sources and print media has consumed the
majorityof adolescents' waking hours.

The writer indicates that the direct effects of the mass media are
seen to influence teenagers' actions greatly. The idea is that they
see some things in the media such as the movies created and it
directly influences them to do something like committing crimes. By
the time they graduate from high school, the article states that
teenagers will have spent more hours watching television, and fewer
hours spent in the classroom. It is also stated that a lack of
established sexuality education programmes in schools and limited
parent-child communications have allowed the media to become one of
the nation's leading sexuality educators.

According toMicrosoft Encarta Encyclopaedia 2000, violence in the
media is of particular concern as it is seen to directly influence
people's actions. There have been a large number of studies to see if
there is a relationship between television viewing and behaviour.

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theoretical idea that supports these findings is the hypodermic
effect. The effect of the media on teenagers is seen as similar to
that of the injection of a drug into vein.
From the same source it is indicated that indirect effects of the mass
media on teenagers are seen as steady long term build up of ideas and
attitudes, for example; if teenagers are depicted as violent through
the media over a period of time society will take that stereotypical
view of teenagers. These groups are called folk devils and cause moral
panic. The public, it continues, usually demand that something is done
about them. They were perceived as being violent so this is the view
that society has taken.
Also in TheMicrosoft Encarta Encyclopaedia 2000 cultural effect
supports these ideas. Theorists supporting these ideas have come to
the conclusion based on looking at the long-term effects. Gerbner, a
sociologist suggests (in the same article) that as teenagers are
becoming more isolated from the outside world they have become more
reliant on the media. This shapes teenagers attitudes and perceptions
towards things such as crimes and pornography.

On the website Psychosocial Paediatrics Committee: Media and Children
2002, the writer says that television has the potential to generate
both positive and negative effects. There is much data about the
impact of television on society; particularly on children and
adolescents. An individual child's developmental level if continued,
is a critical factor in determining whether the medium will have
positive or negative effects and not all television is bad, the writer
states, but the data showing the negative effects of exposure to
violence, inappropriate sexuality and offensive language is very

In relation to the survey that was carried out in Southfield thirty
percent of the selected group said that the Mass Media has a negative
effect on teenagers in Southfield. They say because television, one of
the mass mediums has a negative effect on teens because the majority
of the programmes are inappropriate. They therefore corrupt teenagers'
mind and thus they do the wrong things such as stealing and killing.

Another thirty percent of the selected group says that it has both a
positive and a negative effect. This is so because it makes them more
aware of what is happening nationally and internationally and it is
the window to the world. They also say that it helps them to
understand the world. However, it can also be that it is harmful
because they are exposed to many explicit scenes.

Forty percent think that these media mainly have a positive effect
because teenagers have the opportunity to educate themselves and know
about the different cultures of the world and meet new friends through
especially one medium of the mass media, which is the Internet.

Ninety percent say that the greatest impact on teenagers in Southfield
is the television. This is because almost every household owns a
television set and it has inappropriate shows such as soap operas and
pornographic movies otherwise called "blue movies" which are made for
mature audiences only and also shows which are of violent nature which
influence teenagers in the community to go out and kill, steal and
commit other acts of crime and violence. It was the programmes and
also observed that the abuse of drugs helps in carrying out these

Ten percent say that the greatest impact on teenagers in Southfield is
the church and family members and this is because it takes a village
to raise a child.

The entire selected group said that the most negative effect that the
mass media have on teenagers in the community is the dress code of
these teenagers. They think dress code is very outrageous and their
speech is very poor because they use slangs. Behavioural patterns are
very disgraceful and the influence of crime and violence, sex, drug
abuse and poor manners as presented in the media.

Eighty five percent say that teenagers can maximize the positive
effects of the Mass Media by watching educational programmes and
concentrating on school work. They also say that they should listen to
talk shows like Nationwide and then to educate themselves that will
help them to be successful in life. The other fifteen percent gave no
comment on how teenagers in Southfield could maximize the positive
effects of the mass media. The selected population recommended that
teenagers in Southfield should use the Mass Media for beneficial
purposes, leaving and that in being so selective they could
concentrate on making the best of the media and

In the interview conducted with Detective Sergeant Campbell of the
Savanna Lamar Police Station who is a resident in Southfield for the
past 20 years he says that the Mass Media has had negative effects on
teenagers in Southfield especially the medium of television where
teenagers tend to be influenced especially by the American culture. He
says that some teenagers think its right to go out and kill someone
he/she dislikes for some foolish reason or copy their code of dressing
which is very naked for teenagers in the community.

Another interview with a social worker, Mrs. Reynolds that the Mass
Media influences the behavioural patterns of teenagers and attitudes
towards the outer world and even their peers also. She agrees that the
Mass Media have both negative and positive effects and that if
teenagers make use of the positive it could help them in their social
interaction. The negative effects weigh heavily on teenagers in that
they tend to want to do the bad instead of the good. But with
supervisory help can do better.

They recommend that parents take an active role in supervising what
their children watch on the television and listen on the radio and
also what they read. However the say that teenagers should be aware of
what is happening in the world so as to not make the same mistakes as
others and so they should use the Mass Media for beneficial purposes.


For the validity and integrity of this research, the researcher found
it useful to use a variety of sources. Although two of the sources did
not directly relate to the area being studied, which is the community
of Southfield, it was observed quickly that the secondary sources such
as the Encarta Encyclopaedia and the Internet sources helped to
solidify the face, content and external validity of the findings to
validate or complement the data from the primary sources.

It was very obvious that there were similarities in the information
from The survey done in Southfield and The Student Central: Media
Effects on Teenager 2002; one similarity is that the mass media has
consumed the majority of teenagers time and influence their actions
greatly. This shows that teenagers are easily influenced by the mass
media. We also see that numerous studies done show that the effects of
the mass media, it is like that of injecting a drug into a vein. This
shows that the mass media has a very persuasive intellect so as to be
so influential. It is therefore seen that the Mass Media has very
direct effects on teenagers.

Another similarity was observed in the newspaper and Internet sources.
Here it was indicated that television could enhance but also
jeopardize these teenage viewers. According to The Psychological
Paediatrics Committee Website: Media and Children (2001), the impact
of the television is critical in the development of teenagers.
Although not all television programmes are inappropriate for teenagers
especially in the community of Southfield. According to the
Psychological Paediatrics Committee website: Media and Children 2002,
violence in television programmes pose a threat to teenagers which is
similar to what was said in the interview with a social worker named
Mrs. Shernet Reynolds. They both agree that it influences the teenager
to think about crimes and could lead them to commit crimes themselves.
Indirectly, however it builds up a long-term build up of ideas and
attitudes as teenagers are depicted on the television.

In the survey conducted and the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia 2000,
that Internet has both positive and negative effects. The Internet
enhances communication with the outer world and even regionally. It
can also be dangerous in that it has a lot of sexual offensiveness and
websites for mature audiences only which is watched by teenagers.

Radio and Newspaper according to Mrs. Reynolds and Mr. Campbell are
influential depending on what one read and what one listens to and
they also can make one commit crimes and also change their attitudes
towards some things, such as dress code because they especially follow
the American culture and programmes.

Mrs. Reynolds and Mr. Campbell both think that parents should play an
active role in knowing and supervising the things that their children
watch, listen to, read and see especially on the Internet. Teenagers
especially in the community of Southfield should be ware of the
happening in the region and internationally and learn from others
mistakes and use The Mass Media for beneficial purposes.

The Microsoft Encarta Encyclopaedia 2000 has offered information high
in validity and reliability and credibility. The information was also
relevant to the issue and it gave background information on the
subject of Mass Media and its effects on teenagers. One limitation of
this information is that it does not give a solution to curb the
influence of the Mass Media on teenagers. Despite this, it was very

The survey was valid in that the instrument used, the questionnaire
tested what the researcher wanted it to test, that is testing what
were the effects of the Mass Media on the teenagers in Southfield.

The researcher used mainly the qualitative form of survey, as more
explanation was needed for this topic.

The researcher also used the random sampling method, as she wanted to
ensure that each person got an equal chance to be included in the
sample. The questionnaire was attractively and carefully designed so
that it captured the people's attention and minimized boredom. It also
consisted of a combination of both open-ended and closed ended
questions, so that the respondents were able to elaborate on certain
point that was made and supply more information relevant to the topic.
Bias was eliminated, as the researcher did not personally choose the
persons who got questionnaires and this contributed to the face and
internal validity of the paper. One limitation is that many persons
had no other comments as to how and why the Mass Media has influenced
on teenagers or give their recommendations.

The interview, which was, conducted a Social worker brought the
perspective of an authority in the subject. The information collected
can be considered quite high in content and face validity as no hasty
generalizations were made and she seemed quite convenient with the

The Internet sources were definitely reliable and readily available.
The sites were quite valid and credible.

The instruments that were used were reliable and valid as the provided
information that was very balanced and circumstantial and maybe
obtained if the same research was carried out.

At the end of the project the researcher can satisfactorily say that
all objectives listed in the Statement of the Issue were all
fulfilled. The researcher has successfully found out the effects of
the mass Media on the teenagers of Southfield and discussed if they
were negative and positive. Also the researcher fond that teenager are
easily influenced and should be supervised by parents and be
responsible enough to use the Mass Media for Beneficial purposes.


The Mass Media definitely has an impact on teenagers in Southfield and
particularly the medium of television.

A concerted effort has to be made by the parents, media homes and
other relevant authorities as well as the teenagers themselves to
monitor what is viewed or aired in order to maximize the benefits of
the media.

In relation to the content of this research information was readily
available and the researcher is therefore satisfied with the external
validity of the findings.
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