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The Negative Influence TV Has on Teens

by Erica Loop

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study on media and 8- to 18-year-olds, teens spend an average of four to five hours each day watching TV. With the growing use of technology allowing teens to view TV programs not just on an actual TV set, but also from a DVD player, laptop, tablet or cell phone, it's no wonder that negative media influences abound.

Violence

The American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) Healthy Children website notes that television violence can actually lead to real-world violent acts. According to the AAP, by the time that your child reaches his teen years he probably will have seen roughly 8,000 murders in the course of watching TV programs. Although your teen has the cognitive abilities to reason that televised violence is fantasy -- unlike a younger child who may not understand this or the consequences of violence -- the constant bombardment of violence may desensitize him to these acts or even make them seem intriguing, in an exciting way.

Smoking

As if peer pressure isn't enough on its own when it comes to your teen and smoking, she may also have to deal with the media's influence when it comes to this thoroughly unhealthy habit. Television shows and movies on TV may show images of beautiful, young, popular people smoking; making it seem cool to an impressionable teen. The child development experts at the Healthy Children website suggest that parents speak openly with their children to mitigate the negative effects that the media's glorification of smoking may have.

Dating and Sex

The teen years are a time when your child may have her first romantic relationship and begin to think about her sexuality. This is a confusing period in which your child is getting a mix of messages from peers, adults and the media. TV programs may glorify promiscuity or make your teen think that acting in a sexual way is acceptable, if not expected, from her. According to the AAP, parents should take the time to talk to their children about the sexual situations that they see on TV. This can help the teen to understand the negative aspects of promiscuous actions and discuss real-life consequences.

Body Image

The overly-muscular actor or super-skinny actress on your teen's favorite TV program can negatively influence your child's body image and self-perception. According to the child development professionals at the Kids Health website, teens may compare themselves to the idealized images of the human form that the media presents. Although these aren't realistic or entirely attainable, your teen may see himself as inferior when it comes to the perfect image that he sees on TV. This can result in a negative self-image and lack of self-esteem.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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