Mass media influence the health behaviors of adolescents. Evidence shows that traditional strategies such as censorship or limitation are no longer efficient; therefore, teaching media literacy is the best way to protect adolescents from harmful effects. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the effects of a media literacy training program on knowledge and behavioral intention of a sample of female students according to the stages of change in dealing with media messages. Ever since different types of media platforms and different variations of media have been introduced, it has made society progress at a much quicker rate. Media has influenced many individuals in a good way and in a bad way. It is currently the most powerful source of knowledge to ever exist in human history. The media can definitely get out of hand sometimes, whether it is regarding a social media platform or an opinion stated openly on the internet. There should always be control on what is being posted, as once the sent button is clicked, there is no going back, therefore this can cause more problems to arise.
To begin with, the main feature of the 21st century is media-saturated culture and provision and ease of access to different types of media for everybody, particularly children and adolescents. In general, mass media are the result of the people’s need to satisfy such requirements as gaining news and information, entertainment, and socialization. However, the media are not the mirror of reality and their content is not always complete, accurate, and unbiased. Nowadays, in addition to consuming the old media, such as TV, children and adolescents also spend a lot of time on new types of media. Thus, concerns for the adolescents are increasing in this regard. Some issues related to these concerns include the effect of the media on violence, violent behaviors, and crimes, sexual relationships, educational performance, body image, diet, increasing prevalence of obesity and being involved in sedentary activities, drug abuse and smoking, alcohol abuse, food preferences, and change in the conversational language structure.
Some media authorities believe that such problems can be solved through limitation and censorship. However, censorship and limitation are not desirable responses to the concerns about the mass media and their effects on the children and adolescents. General health specialists have also made use of various strategies for adjusting the effects of the media on health. Up to now, such approaches as regulation of the media contents, limitation of the children’s media consumption, and social marketing, have been utilized to address the problem. Contrastingly, although censoring media is not the way to go, some advantages and disadvantages that can be implemented would also help with this tedious situation. The pros of media censorship is that it protects children from violence and sexual material.
Nowadays, it is much easier to access such content, through surfing the web on a laptop, phone, or even a gaming console, like a PS4. With media censorship coming into play, children will be able to watch, play, and surf the web freely without such images or material coming forward. Another advantage is that it will limit advertisements that are harmful. There are several ads, whether they are before or in between a video on youtube, or on the side of a site; they promote certain product and ideas that cause problems in the long run. This could include products being advertised to influence body shaming or unhealthy eating habit, to addiction. It is necessary and understandable for this content to be censored. Another advantage of media censorship is that it will control the level of hate.
On social media platforms and other types of media, it is noticed that there is a lot of slandering towards certain religions, individuals, and even companies. This would be helpful if it was censored, therefore it would avoid prejudice or discriminatory behavior in forming, based on something that is false. The last advantage is that it would help security. If this rule was implemented, it would avoid sensitive content from being shared, therefore it would do that individual good instead of bad. It would also avoid panic and chaos in the long run; if no photos are shared, nothing can go wrong. Four cons or disadvantages of media censorship are as follows. Censoring would encourage ignorance. Ignorance is usually used when an individual wants to control someone and keep them clueless or unaware. Censoring the news and reports on certain incidents would put several individuals at risk. Censoring the media will also limit awareness and education. Some of the most current issues that society is facing are racism, discrimination, poverty, war, and climate change. Hiding these issues or sugar coating them can cause harm to individuals as they would not be aware of several issues in the world. Freedom of speech is also taken away when one censors the media. Limiting an individual on saying or not saying certain ideas is violating their right as a citizen in Canada.
Since government laws and regulations and changing the media contents are not appropriate strategies for monitoring media consumption and, at the same time, reduction of the adolescents’ exposure to the media is not always practical, parents feel concerned about their children’s media utilization, because children mostly use the media at home. Therefore, parents’ role, as well as the children’s perception, should be taken into account in directing children’s media consumption (19-21). Nevertheless, studies have shown that in the Iranian society, parents do not highly interfere in their children’s watching TV and using computer games, Internet, and other media (22). Thus, cognitive and motivational backgrounds should be created in the adolescents so that they react toward the media content as well as function spontaneously. One of the important ways to achieve this aim is training the children and adolescents on media literacy.
Adding on, these days, whenever one visits the library or even attends a party, it is noticed that many children are constantly on their devices. As children continue to stay on their devices day and night, it has a negative impact on the brain. I have seen children that become anxious, scared, traumatized, and hypersexualized due to things they hear, see, and experience day by day. Children are very sensitive and cannot handle certain topics, the same way adults can. For the proper development of the brain, a child needs to be cared for and needs to be safe. No child should be able to have an easy access to pornography or certain websites. No child should experience violence on Tv, extreme use of language, or two individuals that are intimate. Having the excuse of “they will learn about it or see it from someplace else one day” is no excuse for stopping them throughout their early development stage. Therefore government should take action and look into this problem as it is on the rise.
To conclude, there should always be control on what is being posted, as once the sent button is clicked, there is no going back, therefore this can cause more problems to arise. The media can definitely get out of hand sometimes, whether it is regarding a social media platform or an opinion stated openly on the internet. Media is currently the most powerful source of knowledge to ever exist in human history. Media has influenced many individuals in a good way and in a bad way. Ever since different types of media platforms and different variations of media have been introduced, it has made society progress at a much quicker rate.
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