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The Influence on Mainstram Media on Adolescents

Original post made by Annie Wu, Pleasanton Middle School, on Apr 6, 2009

To those of you who have ever doubted your own beauty, been called something you’re not because you look a certain way, or found that you can’t stray away from the messages that the media gives; this is for you:

My name is Annie Wu and I am thirteen years old, yet in the few years that I have been exposed to the excessive media, I have found that it has such a great impact on all of us: toddlers, young children, and teens alike. In my seventh grade language arts class, I was given the assignment to write about a social issue in the world that I found important. Immediately, I thought of the problem of the influence of mainstream media on adolescents. Whether we realize it or not, media is all around us: The newspaper on the front porch, the magazine in the mailbox, the computer on the desk, the television in the den, and so much more. All this media thrust upon children starting from a young age, seems to control their lives, telling them what to look like, how to act, and who they should be.
The influence of media on children is a huge issue in our world today and should be given a solution before too many of our generation’s children are affected. Media sets a standard for body image and what beautiful is. But, the truth is, there is no precise definition for beauty, although the media seems to have already defined it for us: thin, slender, and long-legged. With all the magazines, movies, television shows, and photographs, kids are widely exposed to the pictures of beautiful women that have bodies that are unusually skinny. And many, not being able to reach this unreasonable standard, settle for solutions that are not always healthy, such as eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. What children exposed to media do not know is that the average model weights more than 25% less than the typical woman and is 15 to 20 percent below what is considered healthy for her age and height. One example of the effects of media is one of the people of Fiji. In 1995, television had not yet come to the island of Fiji, and the ideal body was soft and round. But after about 38 months, Western shows sprang into homes, and in the following years, 15% of the girls on the island had anorexia or other eating disorders. Something needs to be done in the world to stop children’s negative views of their bodies from becoming something that could change their lives forever.
Also, children are immersed in the media everyday of their lives, and each child has a certain role model they look up to. These figures are usually always celebrities that grace the pages of magazines, appear in movies, and act in multiple television shows. Although young boys and girls idolize these people and perceive them as heroes, many do not know the severe negative influences celebrities have on their lives. Celebrities have huge affects on the children of our society. What with Michael Phelps smoking marijuana, Lindsey Lohan continually in rehab, and Chris Brown’s assault, it is no wonder why children are being influenced. Young children are continually led astray by those celebrities that don’t always have their act together. Because teens and young kids everywhere idolize the celebrities they love, they tend to copy or imitate the actions of their heroes. But with paparazzi and cameras everywhere, celebrities are caught doing things that they don’t want their fans to see. The children, in turn, believe that because the celebrities and movie stars do it, they too should follow their steps in order to be popular. From this huge negative influence, more and more children find themselves smoking or drinking because their favorite celeb decided it was right.
Education, drugs, violence, addiction, fashion, stereotypes, obesity, peer pressure, and teen pregnancy are some of the many other affects that media has on children. With the media continually making stereotypes about smart children being “nerds” or “geeks”, grades seem to decline and education is not the priority in children’s lives that it once was. Also, obesity is starting to be a huge problem in America today. In 2005, $11,260,000,000 was spent on food advertising alone. In contrast, the same year, only $9,055,000 was spent on nutrition education for children. It is obvious that this increase in advertisements in the media has a huge affect on the obesity of children. Television and video games are also taking over many people’s lives and putting exercise and physical activity out of their mindset, increasing the obesity of children. Also, with The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Juno, teen pregnancy is perceived as a perfectly normal aspect of one’s average life, when it is visibly a major problem in our society today. Clearly, something needs to be done to help our society from taking the media’s entertainment, into something that is harmful and life altering.
Because mainstream media has so many huge affects of adolescents, this problem cannot be solved with just a few restrictions on how long a child is allowed to watch their favorite television show. There needs to be a group effort in helping the children from getting corrupt views from the media. After people learn that the media images are distorted and learn what a healthy, positive body image is, there will be fewer children who find themselves criticizing their bodies. And the use of drugs, profanity, and sexual activity should be monitored on television and in movies, to reduce the effect on children.
But, of course, many of us cannot change what is show on T.V. and we cannot stop young children from seeing the thousands of advertisements shown everyday. What every parent can do, however, is tell their child what they need to hear. Tell them that models are airbrushed, and their bodies aren’t really that perfect. Tell them that after they start drugs, like their favorite celebrity, there is no going back. Tell them that education comes first and with a little work now, their lives will improve in the long run. Teach them that violence is not the answer. Teach them that you don’t always have to keep up with the latest trends. And most importantly, teach them that media is not a front runner in our lives, and it should not become a necessity.
For all of you who spend hours in front of your computer or on the couch watching T.V., ask yourself if media is taking up the majority of your time. If they answer is yes, get up and go to the park, go shopping with a friend, read a book, draw a picture; there are so many options to get yourself going on something else. Try spending a few hours less in front of the T.V. or on the computer every day and see where that will get you. Who knows? You might even find something you like to do that you never knew of before. So get up and start to make a difference. And although this isn’t helping global warming, or preventing poverty, it’s doing something even more important: It’s making sure you’re life is a good one, one where the media isn’t making the decisions for you.


Annie Wu

Comments (25)

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Posted by Doo Doo
a resident of Valley Trails
on Apr 7, 2009 at 8:53 am

Annie, I am amazed that you are only 13 years old. Your article is very well written. I have two small children and believe it or not, you have already helped them by giving me alot to think about. Good Job. Keep up the good work.

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Posted by Jordanna
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Everything you say is true, Annie. In addition, it's sad how movies, TV and magazines tell girls that what is important about them is their bodies. Also, a girl being raped or threatened with rape is considered good entertainment, it's a part of many movies and TV shows. The way men talk about women in movies is often demeaning, and again, that's no problem for most of the American audience. Putting women and girls down, using them, objectifying them, and threatening them with sexual violence is a big part of American movies and TV shows. Sad and pathetic.

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Posted by Kathy
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Wow Annie, your writing is amazing. I've never really realized any of this before until the day you showed me the commercial and told me about the topic you chose. You should be really proud of yourself =)
Mrs. Melvin will be pleased XD ^-^ =)

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Posted by Emily
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 7:13 pm

I don't really know you, but that was like amazing. You sounded like those famous people writing in big newspapers. It was really good. Like better then good but "excellent" and "fantastic" sound kind of cheesy.

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Posted by Nayun
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 7:13 pm

That's some nice stuff you've written! Everything you said is true, and congratulations for getting such a head start on your project:)

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Posted by ME
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 7:16 pm

that was like,

i am so jealous

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Posted by Jon Hurley :D
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 7:55 pm

This all is true!! u did a great job writing this essay!!! i am truly impressed!!!



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Posted by Michelle
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Hi Annie, i don't really know you, but I'm a friend of Diana's. You're article is amazing! It sounds like an adult wrote it. I'm also in Mrs. Melvin's class and like Kathy said, she will be very pleased. Good job! =)

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Posted by Esther Landua
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2009 at 8:31 pm

As the mother of a 9-year-old girl, I am keenly aware of how the media is probably affecting my daughter's self image. This isn't anything unique to this generation, though: in the 1940s and 50s, girls had to have an hour-glass shape (Betty Grable); in the 1960s, girls had to be thin and flat-chested (Twiggy); in my adolescence there was this weird combination of skinny and busty (Barbie doll) longed for.

I agree with you whole-heartedly about how the media forces an impossible expectation on girls in particular, and that girls respond by hurting themselves. As a side note, see if you notice how often fat people are the subject of jokes, both in the media and on the schoolyard. Next time you hear someone make a fat joke, see how hard it is to not join everyone laughing, and instead speak up on behalf of fat people everywhere.

Thank you for taking on our media addiction in this way. Keep it up!

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Posted by Diana
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Wow Annie, this was great! I am very impressed!

Your perspective and voice ring true, and your message is strong. This topic was definitely a good subject to research, especially at the age we are at right now. Some where along the way, we all get lost and lose our sight about where we want to go, who we are, and who we want to be. I think your article brings back the clarity to some of the things we lost sight of.

Best regards,

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Posted by An eigth grader? haha XD
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 8:53 pm

First of all, this is amazing writing *applause* ;)
Though, if you did not use contractions, it would have made this letter better. A tip is to avoid contractions as much as possible in an persuasive piece of writing. Your ending is very strong, and it will convince many readers that the media is not always the thing to follow. The beginning is another strong point, it really draws readers into your writing.Your evidence is overwhelming, and used very effectively. Overall, this is some of the best writing I've seen in a long time.
Keep up the good work!

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Posted by Kevin Rodriguez
a resident of Foothill High School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 9:00 pm

I do agree, these type of things are influencing the young ones of our society and its just not right. I think that if this goes on for much longer, you will be seeing girls and maybe even boys in elementary school that are anorexic, which can dramaticlly change their lives in the future. So i just wanted to say thank you Annie, for oppening up my mind and finally realizing the wrong and right ways. Thank you, for changing my life.

- Kevin Rodriguez -

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Posted by Anisha
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Great job Annie! I loved what you wrote. All of the information you gave was true and we have to fix these problems in our community and around the world.

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Posted by Jacqueline Young
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Wow, I never realized the effects of the media on communities around the world before until I read this article, Annie. Your writing is amazing and I feel that it will touch people's lives and open their eyes to this deception.


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Posted by Annie
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Hello everyone! Thanks so much for all your support. I really appreciate it. I'm very sorry about some of the typos in my letter and thanks for all your tips. -Annie

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Posted by Connie Wu
a resident of Foothill High School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Dearest Annie,

I suppose I can't say this is news to be, since I've been watching you toil for hours on this project day after day. You've been drilling these ideas into my head for about two weeks now. Although I did not quite believe the media was such a serious issue at first, you have certainly caused it to become permanently embedded in my mind.

For example, today in Global Studies, we were discussing the detrimental effects of overpopulation, and how we, as the new generation, could solve this dilemna. Oddly (or perhaps, not so oddly), the first idea that came upon me was setting examples through the media! Honestly speaking. :)

So I hope that was some heart-warming proof that your ideas are being spread around. I'm very proud of your non-procrastinating ways. (Too bad you got the good genes.) Keep up the good work.

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Posted by UNKNOWN
a resident of Danville
on Apr 7, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Did you mean mainstream instead of mainstram? Sorry if I'm wrong, this is a very well-written article that projects a very important message.

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Posted by Sue Jin
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Wow Annie! That article was amazing. Before, I knew that media was a bad thing and to stay away from all those commercials. However, I did not know a lot of other facts like leading little kids to copy the same ideas as their celebrities. Just like Kathy and Michelle said, I think Mrs. Melvin will be proud of you. :)

Good luck,
Sue Jin

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Posted by Athena aka Connie's friend
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 7, 2009 at 10:59 pm


Your essay was so well-written and made me ponder the differrent aspects of media's effectiveness on our generation. s

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Posted by Athena (Connie's Friend)
a resident of Rosewood
on Apr 7, 2009 at 11:05 pm

You may know as the crazy tall one filming in beards at your house. (Haha). However, I wish you to know how extremely well-written your essay was. So much, in fact, that you made me truly ponder the different aspects of media effectiveness. Just look at all the comments you have already created on this page! This piece of excellent writing has already made an impact on your community. The media escpecially affects people my age, at the high school level. Many teens, especially girls, who are currently quite *ahem* impressionable need to read what you have written. Maybe I'm biased because Connie is an amazing writer, too, but I think you have significant talent for your age.
Athena (sorry it was long, I'm procrastinating on my Odyssey essay- Hey! Maybe you could give me some pointers... :)

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Posted by courtney
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 8, 2009 at 5:59 pm


Your article is really good. I agree with you on the fact that mainstream media does have a huge impact on our lives.Mrs.Melvin would definently be proud of your piece of writing. I hope you get an A on the project because you write very well. Keep researching and telling people about this problem. Again, great writing and great topic.See you at school!


Courtney Seams

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Posted by person
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 8, 2009 at 6:54 pm

wow annie that was really good!
it sounded really professional but easy enough for younger people to understand
seems like you really know what youre talking about
thanks for the enlightenment.... lol

ok bye!

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Posted by Ashley
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 8, 2009 at 11:53 pm

This is absolutely true! Media is affecting little minds and mostly teens. People that depend on media, for example, you said they define beauty as thin, slender, and long-legged. That is insane. You definitely have a strong opinion on this. By the way, this is way beyond terrific!

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Posted by Ashley Grey
a resident of Hacienda Gardens
on Apr 9, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Annie- this is amazing for a seventh grader! The service learning project sounds like a great project, and your writing is amazing for your age. Your article for media attention is very deep, and I will think about the influence of media when I am raising my five- year- old girl who idolizes Miley Cyrus.
Thank You for your advice!

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Posted by Vickie
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 13, 2009 at 12:07 pm

That was AWESOME!!

Your article will have a positive influence on everyone who reads it. Mrs. Melvin will be very very very proud. ^-^

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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