Impacts of Media Technology on Teenagers

Today we are living in a revolutionary world and within seconds, several bombardments of new inventions are happening around the globe, media technology being one of them. Media technology has changed our lives giving us the freedom to perform activities from the comfort of our homes. For example, it has made communication easier and quicker, a document now takes a few seconds to reach anywhere in the world compared to regular mail which takes several days with the involvement of several individuals to reach its destination. If we look at our daily life, we can see a reflection of technology everywhere in our lives, such as TV, telephones, computers, cell phones, PDA, text messages, email, internet, online banking, booking a vacation, GPS, online shopping, online education, online liberalities, online books, online gaming and much more.
By the end of 20th century we can observe that media technology and its effects are as powerful as it were never before. The invention of the cell phone, appearance of computers, laptops, and internet communication has become a vital link in communicating with others. It has become inseparable part of our life and it is everywhere and it is impossible to escape them. Teenagers all over the world are growing up in a world, where the Internet, cell phones, text messaging and other technology dominates the communication and it is an integral part of everyday life.
Technology has changed rapidly; it is hard to predict what will happen in the next six months. If we ask a question whether media technology is good or bad, I believe there is no answer to this question. Technology is a double edge sword; it can be used for good purposes or for bad purposes.
The evolving technology has a strong impact on individual’s life and especially teenagers as they are vulnerable to change. “Research shows that teens tend to be more impulsive than adults, and they may not think as clearly as adults about the consequences of what they do,” (-Jessica Rich, Federal Trade Commission). (Read more)
The story of media in young people’s lives today is primarily a story of technology facilitating increased consumption. We created this blog to promote awareness to most common media technologies that have influenced teenagers’ lives today i.e. Internet, TV, Cell Phones, Gaming, Music and Print Media. 

Internet and Teenagers

The Internet is a part of today’s culture that many teenagers cannot even imagine what the world was like before the Internet existed. The Internet is fun, informative and a great source of communication with others. It's an educational tool and users can learn about almost anything. Sharing information through Internet is easy, cheap and fast. Teenagers have access to billions of websites containing information in the form of text, pictures and videos. 

The internet like other technology has positives and negatives effects on teenagers. Teenagers have access to pornography, obscenities, and ways to make drugs, bombs or even participate in online sexual practices. Teenagers can also become heavily addicted to the internet, which can often lead them into depression, with little or no face-to face time with others. There are also issues with teenagers hacking into school databases, banks, government websites, friends or strangers computers. If your teenagers are spending too much time on the internet, they are at risk of getting involved with one of these activities. Our blog will discuss pros and cons of internet usage among teenagers.

Online Education

Online education does have an impact on the lives of students; online learning can contribute to a gain in self-discipline. Educational goals can be reached by getting an online education. Student’s become more computer savvy from continuously using technology to do research, type assignments, and use specific software to complete projects. Some online programs even offer fast-track programs that allow prospective graduates to complete degree programs faster. (Read more)

Currently, most high school students in North America have access to the internet in their classroom setting. Student can get extra helps through online learning environments (OLE) provided by schools. OLE provides students quick and easy access to course resources and material. Most OLE environments are virtually available from any location that has a computer and internet. The OLE resources usually include: online books, lectures, instructor help, peer-to-peer support, technology support, multimedia activities, instant updates, self-testing applications, comprehensive reviews and much more! Students that have fallen behind can take extra help online to achieve their required credits.

Internet a Job Search Tool

The internet is an excellent online job search tool for teenagers to find a job. Teenagers can search different types of jobs through various job search engines i.e. Craigslist, Monster, Workopolis and Job Bank. These search engines can teach you to fill out an application, create a resume and prepare for an interview. You can apply for the required job through Internet, which is more direct and easy. Jobs can help teenagers feel more confident and independent which can help teenagers explore potential career paths.

Communication and Online Social Networking

Teenagers can communicate with each other through Internet chatting, video conferencing, e-mail or internet telephony. For this purpose, different services are provided on the Internet such as Facebook, MSN, Skype, Twitter, Hotmail etc…

Teenagers spend a significant amount of time everyday on the internet on networking sites. Teenagers use social networking sites to share information with others, connect with friends, create new friends, send messages and comment on others’ profiles pages. However, teenagers may become addicted to these networking sites and can be exposed to legal repercussions. Most teenagers create at least a basic profile, with their name, age, status, photos and interests, but many go much further. It's far too easy for predators to find victims using online social networking.

Internet and health issues among teenagers

Teenagers who spend most of their time on internet have an increased risk of smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, poor school performance, and early sexual activity due to higher media exposure.

A recent study has revealed that teenagers who use the Internet pathologically are more likely to develop depression than those who don’t. Pathological (uncontrolled or unreasonable) use of Internet has been associated with relationship problems, physical ill health, aggressive behaviors and other psychiatric symptoms. (Read more)

Instant Messaging (IM) affects linguistic among teenagers

Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real time direct text based communication (Chatting) through computers or cell phones with one or more individuals while connected to the Internet. It is an extremely fast-growing communications medium, especially among teenagers. Teenagers use IM on a frequent basis often use bad grammar, poor punctuation, and improper abbreviations which affects their academic writing.

  • Limit the time your teenager spends on the internet
  • Disconnect the router
  • Turn the machine off
  • Use technology to restrict access on the web
  • Have family sessions- bring the computer out in the family room so everyone is involved
  • Don’t allow an internet connection in your teenager’s room
  • Become a safety sleuth- observe these websites for yourself
  • Give them alternatives to boredom i.e. positive outlets through family centered alternatives
  • Join them- listen and become involved
  • Discuss with them what they are watching
  • Change locations- move computers to a common area

Television (TV) and Teenagers

TV has become a key member of the family. It tells most of the stories most of the time. We depend on TV for entertainment, news, education, culture, weather, and sports. With the recent advancement of satellite TV and internet TV we have access to both good quality and inappropriate contents. Television affects the teenager’s attitude and orientation and has strong impact on teenagers because visual message compels them more. First, it gives them information and awareness and persuades them to do something or adopt new trends afterwards. The following context describes the positive and negative impacts of TV on the teenagers today.
Education and Entertainment
Television has its good side.  Television is a source of entertainment and education and opens up new worlds for teenagers, giving them a chance to travel the globe, learn about different cultures, and gain exposure to ideas they may never encounter in their own community. TV shows and programs with prosocial messages have a positive effect on teenager’s behavior. The programs with positive role models influence teenagers to make positive lifestyle choices.
On the other hand, television is giving negative exposure to teenagers like promoting alcohol, smoking, violence, sexuality etc. For example, there are too much contents of sex on television in ads, soap operas, music videos and movies. Watching sex on TV increases the chances a teen will have sex, and may cause teens to start having sex at younger ages. Even viewing shows with characters talking about sex increases the likelihood of sexual initiation.
Obesity among teenagers
Obesity is a big issue in teenagers. Teenagers who watch too much TV are more likely to be inactive and tend to snack while watching TV. They often spend most of the time in front of the TV on weekends, holidays and evenings instead of sports and healthy activities. Many TV ads also encourage unhealthy eating habits like fast foods, sugary drinks, snacks, candies and etc. The food and beverage industry targets children with their television marketing through commercial and product placement.
Affects reading habits

Teenagers who are heavy television viewers dislike reading and tend to read materials of lower quality. Moreover, teenagers who spend more time with television and other screen media report lower grades and lower levels of personal contentment. In general, mostly heavy TV viewers get poor grades (mostly C’s or lower) compared to moderate and light TV viewers. Teenagers spend most of their time in front of their TV rather than study in the library.

Sleep problems among teenagers
Regular sleep schedules are an important part of a healthy life.  Teenagers who spend most of the time in front of TV have more irregular sleep schedules. Teens who watches TV late night and do not have enough sleep per day have high risk of sleep problems by early adulthood.
Cause Injuries
Different studies have proven that TV has strong effects on teenagers. Teenagers who watch too much TV sometimes try to mimic unsafe behavior on TV. Teens have been injured trying to repeat dangerous stunts they have seen on television shows. 
Promote alcohol and smoking
The alcoholic drinks are the most common beverage portrayed on TV and they are almost never shown in a negative light. TV ads are a major factor in normalizing alcoholic drinks and tobacco use in the minds of teenagers. Alcohol and smoking ads portray people as being happier, sexier, and more successful when they drink or smoke.
Promote Violence
Television has a powerful influence in developing value systems and shaping behavior.  Unfortunately, much of today's television programming is violent.  Teenagers who watch too much violence and horror become:
  • "immune" or numb to the horror of violence
  • gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems
  • imitate the violence they observe on TV
Promote Sexuality
The average American teenager watches two to three hours of television a day. Sexuality is often presented on TV as a casual activity without risk or consequences and the messages from these content let the young viewers absorb and promote sexual activity.
Therefore, teen sex, teen pregnancy, rape in teen, teen victim of violence, crime and murder is getting common these days.
For more information read more.
Television itself is a good thing and has many good aspects but teenagers are more impulsive and may not think clearly or to differentiate between right and wrong things. Here are some recommendation for parents, guardian, teachers, counselors and other interested people.
  • Parents or guardians please take control of TV watching for teenagers
  • No late night TV and limit the day time TV watching
  • No TV during the study time, and limited weekend TV watching
  • Keep the TV off during family mealtimes
  • Make conversation a priority in your home
  • Do not use TV as a reward or punishment
  • Encourage active recreation
  • Get the TV sets out of your teenager’s bedrooms
  • Watch shows with your teenagers and talk about them afterward
  • Pay attention to what is in the TV shows your teen watch
  • Encourage educational shows, Avoid violent shows

Cellphones and Texting

Cell phone technology has increased dramatically over the last 5 years. We can now send emails, use social networking sites, download various apps as well as communicate to our friends by text messaging. A recent study has shown that how cell phone ownership has increased among teens. 
  • 45% of teens had them in 2004
  • 63% in 2006
  • 71% in 2008
To read more about this study go to: Teens and cell phones 

There are many advantages of teenagers owning a cell phone, such as you can call for help in an emergency situation, be accessible by your friends, parents or co workers. Cell phone ownership helps maintain friendships, where you can store your contacts in your phone book. Most cell phones have PDA capabilities which allow you to access the internet, send and receive email and send and receive text messages. However, teenagers aren’t using it for constructive purposes. Some teenagers tend to text message while driving which can put their life in danger as well as others. Teenagers may use their cell phones to send explicit photographs of themselves to their peers and sending intimidating messages to others.
 Motor Vehicle Act- Electronic Devices- Texting

Effective January 1, 2010 the BC Government issued a new law stating that all drivers are no longer permitted to use a hand-held cell phone device while driving in their car. However, the use of hands-free cell phone devices is permitted only.

In reference to, BC Injury Law Article, this article discusses the impact of using a cell phone while driving. "Driving while using a cell phone increases the chances of an accident. In fact, a recent study has shown that distracted drivers can be more likely than impaired drivers to cause an accident."

The BC Government issued this law to decrease the risks of accidents in motor vehicles. It is unlawful to text, email or use a hand held device while driving. If you are caught using a hand-held device, a fine of $167 will be issued. This includes if you are caught texting and or emailing. In addition to the fine, you will receive 3 penalty points on your driver’s license. “This is preventative legislation that focuses on being responsible with new technology in a way that doesn’t put people’s lives at risk” (Dr. Brian Brodie, president of the BC Medical Association). "On average, about 117 people die each year in B.C. and 1,400 are sent to hospital because someone was not paying attention behind the wheel" (Dr. Brian Brodie).

Please refer CBC website for additional information on the new BC Government hand held device ban.

  • Limit cell phone use at home (i.e. no use of cell phone past 10pm or during meal times)
  • Keep your teenager involved by showing them their bill at the end of the month
  • Teach your teenager responsibility by perhaps getting them a pre-paid cell phone with only a certain amount of minutes
  • Give your teenager a phone bill limit (i.e. you will only pay the bill up to $40 and if your teenager goes over the limit, they are responsible for paying the difference)
  • Advise your teenager not to use cell phone when driving, except in an emergency

Gaming and Teenagers

Teenagers, who play games, have the highest reflexes, thanks to video games, and obviously sports. Parents may think that all that button pushing and game playing may make your teenager addicted, and it does. The only benefits that come from video games are high reflexes, strong and flexible fingers and joints, and a higher processing brain with advanced eye and hand coordination. 
On the other hand, teenagers may become completely addicted to video games and they do not go to work (or school), do not eat properly and do not exercise enough. Teenagers can become desensitized to violence when they play a lot of violent video games. There have been reports of criminals copying violent video game crimes (such as those featured in the controversial Grand Theft Auto series). Video games may give teenagers false expectations of real life, as real life cannot be perfectly simulated by video games.
  • Join your teenager in playing family oriented video games
  • Make sure you look at the advisory for PQ rating for each game
  • Limit the video game playing in your house
  • Limit the access to violent video games

Music and Teenagers

It is nearly impossible to avoid media, whether or not it’s electronic or print. Media surrounds us through the radio, TV, internet, magazines and music. Music can affect teenager’s hair, clothing, and lifestyle. Teenagers listen to the words of music like a sponge and absorb it without thinking about how the music they are listening to may affect them. Whether we listen to music on the radio, IPOD, MP3 Player or on TV, music surrounds us and can impact teenagers either positively or negatively.

Music allows for a connection with others, inspires creativity, provide cognitive development in teenagers and builds confidence among them. On the other hand, music videos that show violence often lead teenagers to condone violence on others or themselves. Sexually charged music videos can change the view of most teenagers that premarital sex is okay. Antisocial music videos allow teenagers the acceptance of being anti-social themselves.

  • Evaluate what your teenager is listening to and seeing in the music videos
  • Discern what your teenager is watching and discuss the music or music videos with them
  • Decide if you want your teenager to be listening to this type of music, compromise with your teenager
  • Provide alternatives, family activities, communicate with your teenager
  • Set limits on types of music that is allowed to be played in the house

Print Media

Print media refers to publications that are distributed in a printed form on paper, such as newspapers, magazines, and advertisements. Print media is one of the most common ways for people to stay informed about current events, technology and other special interests (Answerbag). Print media plays a huge role in influencing teenagers’ culture all over the world. Does print media reflects today's teens, or are today's teens influenced by media portrayals of young people? It's important that parents discuss these issues with their teens, and challenge the materialistic values promoted in the media. The following context will discuss the major issues teenagers are facing today through print media.

Print Media’s Influence on Teenage Smoking

The print media and advertisements have an influence on our teenagers. For example, Joe Camel smoking ads were used for the purpose of showing teenagers that smoking is cool. Joe Camel’s ads influenced other tobacco companies to follow suit in promoting smoking among teenagers. Tobacco products were banned from radio & TV in 1971, so “the tobacco corporations have been finding other way to infiltrate into the lives of adolescents.” This shows how print media has affected teenagers through the use of images to change the lifestyle and acceptance of our youth. (Read more)

A survey was conducted of 117 teenage students about the portrayal of smoking in media. Teenagers showed signs that smoking was normal and acceptable. Some young people noted the acceptance of smoking in a social setting as well as looking “cool” among their peers. It states that,  “positive images of smoking in the media have the potential to down-play the serious health consequences of smoking by portraying it in a way that young people interpret as a normal part of everyday life” (Health Education Research, Vol. 18, No. 5, 554-567, October 2003).(Read more)

How Magazines Impact Female Teens

Many magazines can impact female teenagers in either a positive or negative way. Print Media has proven to show teenagers how to look good through articles on appearance, advertisements or photos. Articles on appearance often show young girls information on how to get perfect abs, how to have the perfect makeup look and it shows tips on what to wear. Advertisements often show beauty products, hair products, clothing and perfume. In these advertisements, however magazines often show underweight women and over muscular men. The photos shown in magazines are often photo shopped and only show flawless skin and no imperfections in women. When teenage girls see this, they want to have the appearance that the magazine is portraying. The ideal look of beauty can make teenagers feel depressed when they compare their bodies to the ones shown in magazines.

  • Talk to your teenagers about health risks of smoking
  • Show your teenagers after effects of smoking
  • Limit the magazines your daughter has access to, don’t subscribe to a magazine without looking through it first
  • Talk to her about health risks of becoming too thin
  • Talk to her about how the models in magazines have been photo-shopped or airbrushed
  • Start an advertising awareness program at her school