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Influence of Media on Children

Updated on August 21, 2014

How Does Television and the Media Influence Children?

Have you ever wondered about the influence of media on children?

Television can be a powerful entertainment and education tool for children given the right programming. However, studies have shown that television, and media in general, can also have a very negative influence. Some studies indicate it can shorten attention span, distort body image, work in conjunction with other factors to escalate obesity, create fear, and increase aggressive and anti-social behaviors if exposure is unmonitored and unlimited.

Learn about what the research shows regarding the influence of media on children, the dangers, and how to counteract the potential negative influence here on this page as we cover what parents need to know.

The Influence of Media on Obesity

The influence of media on children extends to health related issues. Although television has the power to educate on nutrition, exercise, and a wide variety of health related issues, it can also be a negative force through images and advertisements which influence viewers to make poor food choices or to overeat.

In addition, excessive television viewing can result in inactivity which further contributes to excessive weight gain and poor fitness levels.

Children are specifically targeted by some advertisements and are even more vulnerable than adults to their influence. Adults must assist children in questioning and thinking critically about the messages they see on TV.

Limiting television viewing time and encouraging physical activity are precautions that parents should consider.

Videos About Obesity and the Media

Learn more about Nutrition and Obesity - Don't let TV ads be your guide

Choosing Television to Promote Health

The influence of media on children, television in particular, is capable of being positive despite many of the negative images as long as good choices and critical thinking are used. Starting young is the best way of avoiding issues. Here are some recommendations for quality viewing.

Media Influence on Women's and Girl's Body Image

The influence of media on children also extends into how we view ourselves and others. Television shows portray women in a certain way. Generally focusing primarily on their attractiveness; or at least Hollywood's version of it.

These images from movies, television, and all kinds of advertisements bombard women; often with the effect of creating an unattainable image in their minds of how they should appear. Anorexia, bulemia, low self-esteem and a host of other problems can result. These images of course, can also affect the expectations that men have regarding how women "should" behave and look.

Talking with young girls about the images they see and giving them better role models can be important. Learn more about this issue below.

Videos about Media Influence on Body Image

Helping Kids Develop a Healthy Body Image

Books and Activities to Build Self Esteem

Media Influences on Behavior and Sexual Roles

The influence of media on children also effects how kids perceive what is and is not acceptable. Smoking is an example. When celebrities and role models are depicted smoking; it appears to be a normal and acceptable behavior. So to with drug use, drinking, cell phone use when driving, physical violence, and so forth.

Parental role modeling, the behavior of peers, and other factors play into this as well, but the effect of media is indeed strong.

Certainly, the media often portrays men as aggressive, women as passive. In addition, women are often portrayed with a focus on their beauty and sexuality. (or perhaps their homemaking skills) These images, often repeated, can influence how both women and men feel women should not only look, but also how they should behave.

What Does Advertising Tell Us About How Normal Women Should Behave?

Avoiding or Counteracting the Influence of Media Related to Sexuality Issues

There are a number of ways parents can exert some control over the influence of media on children. With younger children it isn't too complicated to limit their exposure to television and other types of media. However, it becomes increasingly important for parents to take an active role in how kids evaluate what they see in print, on television, and on the internet.

This article on developing media literacy can be a good starting point.

For those interested in providing a lesson at home or in the classroom to develop some critical thinking about what kids see on television this Gender Equity lesson can be helpful.

This article on Sexual Con Games covers some tips on counteracting Media Messages.

Consumerism: The Ugly Truth about Media?

We are all susceptible to the messages we see in the media, but the influence of media on children is particularly powerful. Many of our basic beliefs are formed in our early years and media can hold sway if not monitored and regulated by parents.

Per Wikipedia, consumerism is the "equating of personal happiness with the purchasing of material possessions and consumption." Nearly all forms of media are filled with both overt and subliminal messages encouraging us to buy.

Academic experts have attributed depression, anxiety, and other emotional maladies with consumerism. It is said by some to be leading us to a social/financial catastrophy, and certainly even religious leaders have seriously challenged the value of our consumer based culture.

Reports have indicated that many families in the US have their TV on an average of 6 ¾ hours per day potentially giving their TV a stronger foothold in a child's education than their school teacher. According to The Sourcebook for Teaching Science, the average child in fact, views 1500 hours of television per year compared to spending only 900 hours per year in school.

With so much time to educate and entertain, it becomes clear that television is indeed a powerful force in how we perceive things; both for adults and for children. Certainly for advertisers, children are a desirable target as they are even less likely to be consciously aware that those who promote products are attempting to shape they way they think and behave.

Learn more about the Media and Consumerism - Also find resources to combat medias influence

More about Consumerism

What Parents Can Do to Battle the Influence of Media Advertising?

With media advertising often targeting children specifically, it is important for parents to learn what they can about the techniques used by ad companies. The resources below will help.

Parents can then engage their kids in looking critically at the marketing that is thrown at them in an effort to thwart the influence of media on children. Several of the links below will discuss the types of questions parents can use when talking to their children about these topics.

Introduction Photo Credit: redjar

Influence of Television on Obesity Photo Credit: Alaskan Dude.

Media Influence on Women's and Girl's Body Image Photo Credit: Billy Verdin.

Media Influences on Behavior and Sexual Roles Photo Credit: porcelaingirl.

Avoiding or Countering the Influence of Media Related to Sexuality Issues Photo Credit: orangeacid

Consumerism: The Ugly Truth Photo Credit: Thunder Child the Magnificent.

What Parents Can Do to Battle Advertising in the Media Photo Credit: Shinythings

You can review this site at: The Isle of Squid

Influence of Media on Children: Find What You Need? Let Us Know!

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    • profile image

      Kimberly 2 years ago

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      matthewrich 4 years ago

      Informative information you put in this post...I like this post..Thanks for sharing !!!!

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    • Virginiangare profile image

      Virginiangare 4 years ago

      About attention is so true. I never let my son watch TV for more than an hour

    • geosum profile image

      geosum 4 years ago

      We have an obesity epidemic in our country and the media tends to promote and encourage it targeting our children. Great lens.

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      ericsdorsey 4 years ago

      Important lens. Something every parent should read.

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      imagelist lm 4 years ago

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you! This article really helped me for a school project!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      An excellent lens with relevant information

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      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      I like the information you have provided. I spent years in public television and I truly believe that there are educational opportunities on TV, but it's the already educated who put their kids in front of those programs. I also believe in the value of media literacy - not to set kids up to be technologically savvy, but so that they can understand one basic action: turn off the tv/internet/radio if you don't agree with the programming. All stations are ratings driven (because the ratings are used to secure advertising dollars) and if more people turn off "non-nutritional" programming, ratings numbers will be smaller. If ratings are smaller, advertisers won't pay. If advertisers won't pay, the program will get taken off the air. The same goes for the internet; if you don't 'click through' they won't get paid.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm doing a report on how the media effects girls and women. I have found lots of information! But I'm glad about these opinions on the website! XDD

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: what is a good topic to write above TV and Family and their impact on children

      and how willing write it? Also a good topic to write on biomedical ethics and how do you write it? Thanks.

    • profile image

      Jonathan_G 5 years ago

      I love this! Nobody is writing about this except you. Keep up the good work.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      great stuff for the kids i really appreciate you

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is a really good read for me. Must admit that you are one of the best bloggers I have ever read. Thanks for posting this informative article.

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      HERBMASTER 6 years ago

      I am glad someone is writing about this. The word needs to get out about children and media! If you ever feel a need to ! raise your spirits, come on over!

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      visit http://www.zahicorner.com for educations progarames for kids

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      victoriainthesea 6 years ago

      What a fabulous and informative article this is.

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      sherioz 6 years ago

      Very important lens. Thanks for all your work putting it together.

    • vecchios-sicilian profile image

      vecchios-sicilian 6 years ago

      Kids spend way too much time in front of the TV. My goal is to get them behind the Cameras! My new lens "Camera for Children" is designed to help do this.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      thanks for the article! very informative!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Kids need to be limited in the amount of TV they watch and what they watch... that would be a good start. Blessed by an angel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Had to come back and leave an Angels Blessing this time.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thanks for the article. Found it to be very informative!

      http://www.influencemedia.ca

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 6 years ago

      Blessed and featured at Parenting is a Blessing.

    • AuthorNormaBudden profile image

      AuthorNormaBudden 6 years ago

      For the most part, thanks to the programs my kids watch on satellite television, most of the programming watched in our home is free from advertisements. My children seem to realize their self-worth and are open and honest about their feelings. I guess I have been blessed in yet another area of life.

    • hjrankin profile image

      hjrankin 6 years ago

      Like your lens. How much do we just take for granted the influence the media has on our kids!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great stuff!! I like your lens; itâs very informative and engaging. Iâm also building a site Drinking how much is too much which is really useful for drinkers.

    • phoenix arizona f profile image

      phoenix arizona f 6 years ago

      We let our son watch Netflix and I love that they have a children's movie section. He learns a lot this way, but no advertisements.

    • profile image

      PrepareToBloom 6 years ago

      Television should not only be monitored with young kids, but it should be monitored and limited for all people. Watching TV is a sedentary "activity" that involves sitting. Please google the negative health effects of sitting to find out how excessive tv time can have deleterious health effects. Also, the content in this lens mentions how excessive tv might lead to Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Please be advised that this isn't JUST limited to girls! Boys are also susceptible to the negative influence of TV on their views of their bodies and their behavior.

    • akumar46 lm profile image

      akumar46 lm 6 years ago

      Influence of Media on Children can be worse ,so we must act carefully...thanks for nice information.

    • itsmuzza2011 profile image

      itsmuzza2011 6 years ago

      a great lens that will always be a touchy subject ! i love it and gave it the big thumbs up

    • profile image

      lafilleunique 6 years ago

      really a great lense, and great topic.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Do you guys understand the word media propaganda? If that could work so well in making the whole fool then influencing the mind of children is very easy task and have strong influence on their personality and future life. Media is power tool to shape the masses.

    • profile image

      thebabyshop 6 years ago

      Yes, media is definitely an influence on children! It has been for decades. Before it was TV that had the biggest impact, today, the internet is taking the lead. My daughter is only one, but I when I see her watching commercials when we watch TV I realize how long and how often we're exposed to commercials and media from such a young age!

    • profile image

      MedicalBootcamp 6 years ago

      REALLY good lens! I've been writing about Worst Media Messaging for a few months, but nowhere near what you've accomplished. I'm hoping lenses like yours - and mine :-) - will get parents to take a long, hard 2nd look at what their kids see every day.

    • profile image

      Parentalrights 6 years ago

      Thank you for a packed and informative lens that can help empower parents to make the best decisions for their kids.

    • profile image

      Jerrad28 6 years ago

      I think as long as parents keep a positive and interactive relationship with their children, detrimental media can be offset. Parents should not use tv and video games as a babysitter or way to keep their kids occupied so they can get away

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 6 years ago

      Media is like parents' worst and best enemy. This is truly an insightful and wonderfully discussed lens. It is such a pleasure to read it. Love your lens

    • RetroMom profile image

      RetroMom 6 years ago

      Don't leave your children unattended. So that you can explain everything that's confusing for them.

    • OrganicMom247 profile image

      OrganicMom247 6 years ago

      Media is plays a very significant part of our lives but I do agree that anything in excess is a problem. We need to know the things that is going on between us and media does provide it to us but it is up to us viewers when to draw the line. Thank you for tackling up this topic, you've made such a wonderful and informative lens!

    • pinkrenegade lm profile image

      pinkrenegade lm 6 years ago

      Media can be good and also bad for children. That's true. But with proper guidance of the parents or guardian or an adult, there will be no problem with it.

    • Tiggered profile image

      Tiggered 6 years ago

      Important subject, congratulations.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Nice lens.Thanks for sharing. Work Plan Platform

    • TheOmegaJuggalo profile image

      TheOmegaJuggalo 6 years ago

      The article was nicely written, and you presented it well.

      However, I think blaming technology is a parental strategy that lets the parents themselves ignore the fact that they're inadequate of raising an intelligent child.

      People force their kids to go to public school, raise them to believe that working an unhappy life is the way to live, and then blame TV. Classy.

      Not giving you any grief... just stating an honest opinion.

    • profile image

      mercatornet 6 years ago

      great lens. Good to see you raising awareness of this important topic.

    • chicagoheather profile image

      chicagoheather 6 years ago

      What a great resource of information - thanks!

    • pheonix76 profile image

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      Very interesting lens on an important topic. Thanks for creating.

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      babyfavors1 6 years ago

      Media gives big impact on children.Nice information.

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      fantasticallyfi 6 years ago

      Air brushing is really disturbing and puts out all the wrong values and messages. Nice Lens!

    • profile image

      plushdeco 6 years ago

      It's not a question on how media influences children. It does the same with adults. Most families spend their whole free time in front of TV so basically parents influence kids more than TV itself. If the parents would spend time with their kids, read, hike, play, talk then wouldn't be any problem.

    • profile image

      plushdeco 6 years ago

      It's not a question on how media influences children. It does the same with adults. Most families spend their whole free time in front of TV so basically parents influence kids more than TV itself. If the parents would spend time with their kids, read, hike, play, talk then wouldn't be any problem.

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      clownasd 6 years ago

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      jim2011 6 years ago

      Welcome to cooking games online!

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      halibound lm 6 years ago

      I took a youth culture sociology course a few years back and we discussed so many of these topics! Good information!

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      Vikki 6 years ago from US

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Very informative lens,Thanks for sharing. strategic planning software

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      blessedmomto7 6 years ago

      Great lens and so true!

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      aishu19 6 years ago

      It is amazing how today's media can influence our kids so much..but I think with proper supervision you can reap all the benefits today's media can offer them

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 6 years ago

      Very good lens and the subject is important as we... I lensroll to my Building Toy lens.

      Thanks Regards

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      Victor-Perea 6 years ago

      Yes.. Media influence children in all possible way.

      Just limit TV time for a start.

      ------------------------

    • RuthCoffee profile image
      Author

      RuthCoffee 6 years ago

      @steveroper: We agree completely on that. A pet peeve of mine...we spend our lives watching other people live it!! From sports to reality TV. Too many people are passive about life and expect to be entertained rather than entertaining themselves.

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      Grenerdheadat lens - and something to which we all (especially parents) should give a lot more thought. I read on another lens that, on average, before a child is old enough to enter 1st grade, he or she has watched a number of hours of TV equivalent to the hours needed to earn a bachelors degree. Now, that's stunning!

    • enigma0430 lm profile image

      enigma0430 lm 6 years ago

      I am always looking to help my children navigate the messed up messaging that the media feeds to us. Thank you for providing all this great info!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      A lot of truth portrayed through this lens that we can all learn from. TV and entertainment has almost taken over a lot of our lives to a point that we have become slaves to it. There needs to be a balance and definitely we need to set a good example for our younger generation. Well presented!

    • profile image

      steveroper 6 years ago

      I believe that in most households there is just too much TV. We spend too much time watching other people doing stuff and not actually doing anything ourselves. We actually built our

      Kleeneze business in what would otherwise have been TV time. 5 years later we semi retired! We think that was a better use of our evenings!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 7 years ago

      People should watch TV with their kids and talk about it.

    • ZablonMukuba profile image

      ZablonMukuba 7 years ago

      the media plays a powerful role on our kids and we have to protect them against it

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Keeping kids safe is the responsibility of parents. If you let them watch, watch with them. TV is not a babysitter.

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 7 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      ^TV is not bad, but should be watch under supervision. My son is not allowed to watch more than 30 min a day (he rarely watch that much anyway) and since we are in France, he watch DVD only because here kids TV is filled with advertising toward them (toys, junk food). When we were in Canada it was not a problem because in Canada it is forbidden to have advertising for kids.

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      kristiene lm 7 years ago

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      kristiene lm 7 years ago

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      LouisaDembul 7 years ago

      I liked your list with alternatives to TV!

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      Fit_Over_40_Buzz 7 years ago

      This is a great lens. Thanks for making it. Very informative. I gave you a thumbs up

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this to us! Very interesting article!

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      Andy 7 years ago from London, England

      Very interesting. My son is just 7 months old and already fascinated by the TV (not that I let him watch it much yet) so I imagine it will be a very powerful influence as he gets older.

    • profile image

      DanSuciu 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for these articles! They helped a ton with my persuasive english essay. I never really realized how much effect the media has until I really dug deep into research... This is insane! I watched SuperSize Me in health class and it finally made me understand that my generation is becoming really involved with the media--and that's a scary thought! Now, its one of my goals to raise awareness about how harmful the media really is.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thank you for this lens

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Parents need to wake up and see what power the TV really has over their kids!

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      Shamim Rajabali 7 years ago from Texas

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      MarbleousBehavior 7 years ago

      I've lensrolled your lens to further the "Is TV Bad" debate on my lens Using "Marbelous Behavior" to Limit Screen Time.

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      Johanna Eisler 7 years ago

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      anonymous 7 years ago

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for these articles! They helped a ton with my persuasive english essay. I never really realized how much effect the media has until I really dug deep into research... This is insane! I watched SuperSize Me in health class and it finally made me understand that my generation is becoming really involved with the media--and that's a scary thought! Now, its one of my goals to raise awareness about how harmful the media really is.

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      MissPuppy 7 years ago

      So true! Whatever goes in comes out. good lens.

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      norma-holt 7 years ago

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      norma-holt 7 years ago

      Good lens and inportant information. Top marks. Lens rolled to and featured on Cartoons are Junk Brain Food.

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      Demaw 7 years ago

      People are living in a media driven culture, how can children not be swayed when adults are?

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      kariano 7 years ago

      Very useful information. Thanks for lens!

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      Earth_Friend 7 years ago

      Nice lens! Television is getting worse and worse, kids need to start doing more activities instead of planting themselves in front of the television. Take a look at Green Tips For Kids , there are some fun ecofriendly activities for kids.

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      lasertek lm 7 years ago

      This is a very good lens. The television and other forms of media carry both benefits and disadvantages to people especially children. That is why, it is important for parents to know the shows that interests their children. It would even be best if the parents could watch along with their kids so that they can guide them further and answer questions raised by their children. 5*