Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Media: Is it our Best Friend or Worst Enemy?

Image: Markus Kwon /CC license

According to a poll taken by the National Sleep Foundation, 50% of 15-17 year olds only receive 7 hours of sleep per night, which is 1 hour and 30 minutes less than the healthy recommendation. But what’s made the change? The answer lies in the device that is sitting right in our back pockets. Our cell phones. Social media use has skyrocketed in adolescents and has created a new outlet for teens to explore. Mediums of technology like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have impacted our generation forever. What I hope to answer is the question everyone seems to be asking: over the last 5-10 years, have social media and technology use proved to be more helpful or harmful overall? I firmly support that the presented devices have proved harmful, because teens and even children are developing fewer creative abilities, and secondly because of the various negative messages that bombard our teens daily such as sexual, violent, and distorted images.

If we were to ask a random group of teens to raise their hand if they participated in Texting, Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of internet activity, more than 95% would respond in the affirmative. What seems like harmless online conversation is in fact transforming the way in which we interact with each other. The re­­­­­ason for this? As a result from countless hours behind a screen, more teens are losing their capabilities to arise creative thought and conversational skills (Rettner) . Because social media has become a more convenient way to chat with friends, teens naturally rely on these outlets for their intercommunication. This is distressing when we consider the necessary tools to create a well-rounded individual capable of upholding basic conversational skills. By allowing our teens to take part in what is considered the “average" amount of electronic exchange, we are raising a generation of one-dimensional adults who lack the necessary skills to build a literate society.

Considering that, we can examine similar statistics further and in younger ages. Are our children becoming less and less creative also? Judging from studies, the answer seems as though they have. In a study conducted by Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary comparing youths from 1970s and 2010, we see a direct increase in creativity amongst American children. (Kim Hee) However subsequent studies have shown, these youths have become less and less capable to create “out of the box” ideas, have decreased humor, and are seemingly less imaginative and unable to elaborate their ideas. Scientists proved in more recent years that even the act of watching television is passive enough to contribute to the lack of creativity in future generations (Kim Hee). Furthermore, modern kids’ creativity, in a study conducted on 900 children from ages 6 to 9, the children were asked to create a puppet play judged on depth of story and creativity (Sandra Russ). Comparing the statistics by Hee Kim, the more recent plays have proved much more uncreative proving that the creativeness has in fact directly decreased. (Rettner). This mentality follows these kids til they are adults and even further makes a unstable, uncreative, and unconversational teens unable to access a deeper area of their left brain (Rettner). Put simply, this idea that the normal use of technology in everyday situations follows these kids as shadows they cannot get away from and will eventually evolve into the teen overuse of technology we examine today.
Although messages from the media have varied, they have started to convey negative images and ideas to the consumers. From quotes taken from big corporations and advertising companies, the idea in ads is simple: sex sells (While). Not only is this in it of itself bad, but based on a statistic , the simple the act of watching television shows that contain sexual content is associated with an earlier rate of actual sexual activity amongst viewers. (While) This directly shows that the sexual images and hints given to early adolescents are proving themselves to be hurtful on their own.
The idea that both the male and female species should be sexually active along with these ads makes a distorted image of reality. Pushing the boundaries even further, the National Eating Disorder Association points out that 98% of models are much thinner than the average woman. Therefore creating an idealized yet distorted image of how “women should look.” These images are made just for teens as all media advertisers look at them as is consumers (Steyner). These ruthless ads are always trying to push the boundary.
Aside from the extremely sexual images and concepts in these media, the amount of violence and death in television and videogames conveys negative images in all participants’ minds (While). In mediums such as video games, teens or “players” are rewarded for their brutality and violence against opponents. This makes these teens less and less sensitive to the impact of violence. In fact, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, by the time one has reached the age of 18, he or she will have witnessed about 200,00 violent acts. This is a disturbing number, higher than any parent with this type of knowledge would be comfortable with. Even more, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry presents the strong correlation between the exposure to violence and actual aggressive behavior. (While)

Although the facts prove that media and technology impact’s have been harmful to today’s generation, Those who disagree point out some of the good qualities of the “power of the media.” Someone who disagrees with my idea would point out the blast ability sent by technology, but instead, the influence and positive impacts that leaders of the internet have made. These role models create good images for teens around the world and inspire them to make positive changes in their communities. An example of this is PewDiePie who is named the “most subscribed” and one of the most famous youtubers who started a fundraiser for the charity, “Save the Children,” where his subscribers were to donate money to the foundation. This organization helps orphan children and influence them in a good and healthy environment that they would not be able to have otherwise (Kjellberg). The goal of money to gain from the funds initially was to raise $250,000. However, so inspired by this great role model, the “Bros”as PewDiePie like to call them raised

$342,000 in total (Kjellberg). This is a good representation of how Youtube and the Internet are a community and how these leaders in the internet inspire people to do more for the world.

Although the Save the Children and similar fundraisers have proved to be one of the more positive sides of media, there is definitely negativity in YouTube as well. I do, however, believe that many people use the internet and more specifically YouTube for entertainment over education or furthering themselves. Although PewDiePie has created a good influence in teens and others around the world, Youtube comes with some bad connotations. For example teens usually stay up late in the night completely consumed with their videos and other things on the Internet, like Vamper Owen Lanahan, who sneaks his phone into his room after the 10 o’clock curfew because he (along with many other teens) considers his time with the internet his own (Holson). The vamping is considered cool in social circles which further creates an internet that is not so innocent (Holson).

In conclusion, social media is a dangerous outlet for all persons to be participating in. Used correctly, however, I can find the beauty in something as large and connected as the media that we are provided with like Youtuber PewDiePie, but then again, there is always a con side which proves to be that YouTube is commonly used solely for entertainment, therefore furthering the use of electronics in what some may call “inappropriate” situations. Overall, however, we can see how the technology and media in our world has proved to be more hurtful and harmful because of it impacts on conversational and creative abilities, and its ideas conveyed to users and participants such as sex and violence.

Bibliography

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Conclusion:


As I have shared throughout this digital citizenship class and to countless others about the class and this project, I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of writing, editing, and creating this blog. I had never participated in such an important project of this magnitude until this semester, and I was pleasantly surprised at how fun it has been. My thesis takes a clear stand on the proposed topic; that today’s technology has proved to be more harmful, because teens and even youngsters are not developing creative thinking skills and because of the negative images and messages that influence our views on sex, violence, and distorted images that are ubiquitously portrayed on the world wide web known as the internet. The topic is definitely important to Digital Citizenship, because we as citizens are asked to be responsible on the internet with technology, as we are the people who decide whether or not to listen and/or accept the notions and ideas that are being disseminated to all people who live in this modern world and we need to ask ourselves questions about what we are viewing and therefore believing about what we see and perceive as well as pose the question to ourselves “how long is too long” surfing the Internet. These are the issues of what need to be considered as we thoughtfully contemplate being a good citizen in the online world. I also realized however, that there are endless possibilities and ways to look at my topic, and the comments and links that I found helped me to think about other avenues I could take my article. Most of the comments in general were helpful and piqued my interest, because each took a different stance or perspective on a part of my blog that they elaborated on. One of the comments was especially thought-provoking and posed the idea that the world with this new invention will never go back to not having or using the internet, therefore what can we do to make this invention as beneficial for as many involved and limit the harmful aspects? Because the comment did not refute my thesis, or idea, my position and my mind were changed, it did however provide me with even more topics to ponder and eventually investigate than with what I started. The comments made me realize how many varying ideas and thoughts are floating out there regarding the new and modern world that technology brings. From there, I was excited to do even more research and digging around to substantiate my comments in reply. I read more articles, and researched statistics to try and persuade some of the commenters specifically on the correlation between the lack of sleep, creativity, and increased aggression. This research lead me to a video that led me to dive into my topic even more. The video helped me realize that there is some good that comes out of this technologically-enhanced world. Michelle Obama advertises for a program called “Let’s Move”, encouraging kids to get up and go outside. Without access to these videos or motivational commercials, positive messages of health and well-being would not be as easily disseminated. It proved to be a good example of the benefits of today’s modern technology and its uses. It is an epiphany like this that really made me appreciate the project. Moreover, I think that the blog project made me very grateful to have a forum to talk about big topics like this, and the class itself makes me look at technology differently, as I was able to see different positive and educational aspects of the internet. In conclusion, I am happy that I was given the opportunity to complete this project and to take this class. I learned a lot about the ways in which I can make an impact on our world as a Digital Citizen, and what negative and positive issues have arisen over new and advanced technology in the world today.

12 comments:

  1. Great word choice Helen! I found this article to be interesting because I am familiar with Pewdiepie and his charity campaign. What, in your opinion, should be a happy medium between children/teens and exposure to the media through technology? What do you think of the shameless self-promotion on websites such as youtube?

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    1. Hi there MBenjaminDR! Thanks for your comment. I think that a good and happy medium with kids in technology should be greatly influenced by age. For example, in my article I talk a lot about how young children use technology which directly builds bad habits for the child when he or she grows up...it makes the child think that he or she needs the technology when they grow up. Check out "The Telegraph's" post called how young is too young by Johnathan Maitland. Furthermore, I do agree with what you argue is "shameless self promotion". For many you tubers, being and making videos, is their jobs, and it is sometimes necessary to "self promote" because it is how it makes the you tuber makes money. -Helen

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  2. Hello, this is a good topic to talk about because many people are definitely sleep deprived and spending too much time on the internet. To me there's one thing that makes the internet's pros better than the cons is, internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks. If you think about it the internet is the brain of the world and each internet user is one of the nerve cells, together we all make the most powerful system (in every category social, communications, military etc. ) invented today. If there was no internet there would be no passing down of information (except books). The real start of science was when books came around, with books people could write down their great ideas and if they worked they could share them with the people in the province or area they lived in. Then the internet was invented. Now you can instantly share ideas, jokes, send files and do pretty much everything good that you have in your life. If you did not use a computer and refused to use any information from it or the internet you would have such a disadvantage over everybody that had it. The only question I have is would you want a disadvantage in your life that other people don't have? The more screen time you have the better your life is (until you die of not sleeping or you become really lazy).

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    1. Hi Roman23458. Thanks for your comment. I do not argue that people and more importantly teens should not at all use the internet, however the amount that we use is excessive. It controls our lives. No evidence shows that doing your simple homework and a little bit of relaxing causes the lack or sleep or rise of agression, instead it is overuse and lack or self control. Furthermore, I don't think one's happiness should be based on how much "screen time" you have. Moreover, it is a bit of a slippery slope saying you will either die of not sleeping or simply become lazy. Those are two very extreme extremes. I do think however that the use of technology requires self-control. If you want more information, see my bibliography, where there are many sources that support this very topic. Thanks! -Helen

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  3. Hello, this topic may raise it to social degrees, which I think is great to talk about. You did a great job in supporting your opinions by using a lot of statistics. However, the world cannot stop using those devices even you can prove that they are harmful. Then the question is that how can you make it harmless or even beneficial. I myself would be one of those who sleep less than 7 hours but firmly like to continue using technical devices. But after read this passage, I thought I should make some changes in my life.

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    1. Hi there! Thanks for your comment. I don't however think that we should not being up the topic of overuse of technology just because people think "no one will ever stop using tech", that seems kind of lazy..... Furthermore, you don't have to stop using all your tech devices, instead, just try to reduce your use. For more information, visit (http://www.debate.org/opinions/do-we-depend-on-technology-too-much). It does a really nice job of debating how much is too much, with technology. Thanks! -Helen

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  4. Great topic, Helen! You have made some good points on the impact of technology on creativity and life skills. In response to a recent New York Times article on the use of technology in education, a letter writer notes that, "Particularly worrisome is the enormous marketing push by ed-tech companies to get digital devices in the hands of very young children, taking time away from the kind of hands-on exploration and creative play proved to be essential for learning." (Linn and Adelmann) Do you think you have experienced any "loss of creativity" or had less "creative play" thanks to technology? Thanks for raising these issues in your article. --Ms. Riches

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    1. Hi Ms. Riches! I really appreciate your comment! Thanks for bringing up the question, it really makes me think! The true answer is, I think I was lucky enough to grow up in an age where technology was not used, I do however think that youngsters, like my brothers are much more affected, and although technology might not directly cause a lack of creativity, instead, I do believe that it completely distracts them from work or school. If you want to look at more actual statistics like proving the correlation between ideas like no sleep and tech, look at the article by Mary Madden conducted by the Pew Research center. Thanks!! -Helen

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  5. Hi Helen, I really liked your blog and especially your topic that your wrote. I was very interested to learn just how many people use all of these media sources and how often they did. Also, I really liked your solid facts and talking points that were used to back up a very well thought out thesis. If those media sources are used to create these problems then is there a way that we can use them to fix the cons?

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    1. Hi there Paul S.! Thanks for your comment! Thanks for giving such an interesting comment! I really do think that we could use media sources to fix some of these problems. For example, Michelle Obama uses television and Internet to inspire kids to go out and play for 60 minutes each day called "Let's Move!". To look at one of these example and many more, look at (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1f9fIYXddg). Thanks for your comment!! -Helen

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  6. Hi Helen, great topic for creating awareness. The internet plays a big parts in many peoples life, majority being the youth and their are cons to the internet as well. I agree with your statement of Youtube and there are cons to it. For example- there is a term known as "the dark-side of youtube" and this can be easily accessed by many users. Apart from that, what do you think YouTube should do to prevent inappropriate content of their sites ? Are they doing anything to prevent such situations ?

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    1. Hi there! I researched the "Dark Side of Youtube" thing.... I for one am obsessed with youtube, and it was eye-opening. I do not however think that it is necessarily Youtube's responsibility to shut down these users. For example, Youtube has a rating area where you can flag a video after you witch it which the does not allow anyone over 18 to watch it making Youtube a safer community. I think that this is a problem because the heads and creator of Youtube do not have time to look at every video from the "Dark side of Youtube". If you want to learn more about it, I visited Buzz Feed with an article titled The Dark Side of Youtube's Stars by Dan Brown. If was interesting to see, as I had never heard of a "Dark Side" before. Thanks!!-Helen

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