As a parent or guardian one must ask themselves?
What are the societal implications of popular media? Why should parents/guardians care about these implications?
Furthermore, how does this create a negative relationship between your child and their perception of the world around them and themselves?
Media as a whole has largely played a role in our lives. As we are constantly surrounded by images channeled through various forms of popular media, our perception is influenced. In recent years, there has been a prevalent social correlation that we as responsible parents must acknowledge. Our youth for the last few decades has been influenced by the advent of popular media. To specify upon aforementioned media, magazines, newspapers, and billboards are more traditional forms of media, where as in the couple decades neo-classical media mediums such as popular television have garnered significance…
Evolving Social Media and the “End of Gender”
In this Ted talk Johanna Blakely breaks down the relationship between evolving media technologies such as social media and the “end of gender” – which refers to the blurring of the lines between what use to be traditional made and female gender roles. This is highly relevant towards our children see as they are surround by social media which in the past with traditional gender roles, would influence our child’s development with rigid roles.
… As a result of our youth’s affection towards popular television, they have created a connection, which tip-toes on the fringes of what is reality. This blurring of the lines of what is real and what isn’t can lead to detrimental health related issues.
As our youth is exposed to popular television, with its ubiquitous nature, they draw their understanding of what they should be from an archetype portrayed in a show. Despite advancement in gender-based in-equality, as time progresses, popular television births negative societal implications in regards to our youth perception of gender roles.
The following graph displays the type of television viewed. As it is quite apparent the drama category garners more viewers then any other category. This is especially troublesome as a parent, seeing as most unequal or stereotyping gender roles are displayed in popular television dramas.
Lets get PHYSICAL:
In today’s age, popular media portrays men as being masculine and in particular muscular, this thereby is perceived as the norm by our youth. In reality, not everyone is able to acquire the physique of a body builder or professional athlete, furthermore who is to say that body portrayal is healthy for everyone? In popular television shows the implications that influence adolescents do not take this into account, therefore depicting unrealistic expectations for men in the real word. The result of this being that our youth, specifically males feel self-conscious if they lack an appealing “manly” physique and typically will feel pressured by society to exercise. “Exposure to sexually objectifying television and magazines increased body surveillance in men though not women in a 2-year panel study. Given that internalization of media ideals has been found to be a strong predictor of body image concerns in men” (Daniel 33).
As mentioned by Daniel, issues with lack of confidence in body image becomes prevalent but is not only limited to men. “Although men may not necessarily experience evaluation by women to the same degree that women experience evaluation by men, men are subjected to the same overarching cultural system and ideals perpetuated by the media that prove to be important in the literature concerning objectification and body image concerns for both genders” (Daniel 33).
On the other hand, woman in popular television are portrayed as being feminine, petite and all too often sexually objectified. This objectification focuses on the woman’s sexuality and feminine physique more so than their role in the show, thereby leading to woman being often portrayed is lesser roles than men. Collins elaborates on this point, “Women are less likely than men to appear in health storylines from popular fictional programming. Less than 40% of characters playing significant roles in health storylines were women, across the categories of sick person, caregiver, and bystander. The stories in which women and men appeared were of equal prominence, were equally serious in tone, equally educational, and equally likely to contain information about factors such as diagnosis, treatment and prevention—but women appeared less often” (Collins 292). This lesser portrayal on woman in media, effects how young girls view themselves and their position in our hierarchical society.
Concerns with Body Image…
Media portrays this stylized ideal image of a man or woman that our youth strives to obtain yet it is in itself un-obtainable. As our youth travels further down the rabbit whole trying to achieve an unrealistic image, they put themselves at serious health risks. In young woman in particular, eating disorders are observed,Disordered eating behaviors are quite prevalent among adolescent girls. Slightly more than half (57%) of adolescent girls (mean age 14.9 years) in one large-scale study reported using unhealthy weight control behaviors (e.g., fasting, smoking cigarettes or skipping meals) in order to lose weight during the past year (Lopez 728).
On the other spectrum, boys have their own societal birthed expectations which Lopez divulges, “unlike girls, boys typically want to gain muscle or weight to conform to a sociocultural standard of attractiveness for males that emphasizes strength and muscularity boys who seek to achieve this ideal are at risk for developing weight and body concerns.”(Lopez728). With further analyzes and the essential connection between body image and popular media, it’s quite apparent that the objectification of men and woman alter our youths understanding of themselves and their surrounds.
Media in the modern era…Is it all that bad?
The presence of popular media, particular in relation to television shows, clearly has long reaching societal and cultural implications. As we observed, delving deeper into the relation between media and its implications on gender roles, there are numerous negative associations. For example, women are portrayed as nonprofessionals, homemakers, wives or parents, and sexual gatekeeper. (Collins 290) Despite this being said, there are rare occurrences where media does promote positive archetypes in our youths perception of gender roles. Per say, when your son observes the leading male character on his favorite television serial enacting empathy towards another character. It is vital to acknowledge that, as less often portrayed as they are, these beneficial effects do shape our youths identity as well.
So what can we as a concerned parent/guardian do?
It is up to our society to push the popular media outlets to bring to fruition healthier, respectful and appropriate depictions of men and woman in our society. As Collins expresses, there is hope for the future,
“When women are present they are typically scantily dressed and relegated to stereotypical roles. While these patterns are clear, the articles also identify some variations in them that may be the starting ground for future avenues of research, including differences by race, sexual orientation, and nation.”(Collins290). ”
In essence put pressure on big media sectors, it may be an uphill battle but we as parents must – PUSH FOR A CHANGE!