Saturday, February 11, 2012

Television & Today's Youth

Jersey Shore's season three premiere was watched by 377 000 Canadians. Keeping Up with the Kardashians' Canadian viewership increased by 11% with news of Kim's scandalous divorce. 202 000 Canadians tuned in watch Teen Mom's second season, a 134% increase from its original premiere. And yet we wonder why our society is heading down the dark road of inappropriate behaviours and overwhelming insecurities.

Farrah from Teen Mom

This negative effect is primarily seen in today's teenage generation, which tends to be the largest group indulging in such programs as 16 and Pregnant and Skins. With multiple shows, reality or not, showing teens participating in excessive partying and promiscuous sex, the media is sending a strong message to our society that these behaviours are not only normal, but that they are encouraged. As adolescents spend so much time in front of the television and idolize their favourite characters, these actions of drinking and hook-ups have become much too common and are now causing some dangerous impacts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, eight teens die each day in alcohol related vehicle crashes, yet Snooki is still seen downing shots at clubs every weekend. This behaviour has made it common for teenagers to have fake IDs in order to buy alcohol, contributing to the consequences of drunk driving. Next, Teen Mom tells us that having unprotected sex and then, as a result, a child is something a typical teenager is fully capable of. The show claims to show the hardships of being a young parent, but instead focuses on a group of girls who have boyfriends, familial support, and sufficient finances - a very one-sided and often unrealistic picture of teen motherhood.

Snooki from Jersey Shore

Another way in which television is impacting today's youth is through body image. On television, almost all of the main characters and personalities we watch, from Gossip Girl to American Idol, are what is considered "good-looking". By having most celebrities and stars being thin with flawless skin and shiny hair, it is no wonder that many teenagers, especially girls, feel inadequate. I know when I watch TV, there is rarely a character who I can fully identify with because I'm not a 5'10" model with a hot boyfriend, and instead of realizing this is the media's fault like I should, I think there is something wrong with me, a common misconception by many adolescents. Television needs to change in order to match our society - one that is made up of all different sizes, shapes, and colours.

The beautiful cast of Gossip Girl

With the media constantly surrounding us, and the television being the one of the most watched forms of it (on average 4 hours a day for teens), we need to learn to separate what is a construction and what is real. With adolescence being a very impressionable time in one's life, it is important to realize that what we see on television is not always true or an accurate representation of what our lives should be like.

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