According to William Glasser, “Humansare, by nature, social beings”. A single person’s existence has beeninexplicably linked to those around them, and communication has slowly evolvedto be possible through increasingly complex means. In today’s world, theprevalence of media is arguably the highest in history. In particular, mediasuch as print, broadcast, and web-based content can influence the youth intheir behavior and mental health, particularly through interpersonalrelationships, social adjustment, and worldview.
Due to majority of the youth’s growth being in a media-basedsociety, the current youth is largely dependent and influenced by the media,affirmed by Pediatrics and Child Health (2003, p. 301). It is worth noting,however, that while the mental health of the current youth has indeed declined,the blame cannot be placed on the media alone. Bedell (2016) mentions thedemanding nature of exams as a trigger for teenage mental health issues. Amyriad of other factors too, such as poor upbringing, abuse (be it physical ormental), peer relations, substance abuse, as well as psycho-physiologicalsetbacks innate in a person can trigger a decline in mental health in general.The negative effects listed throughout are a result of prolonged use of media,thus, it is more applicable towards samples of youth who are more in touch withthe media, as there are still parts of the world where media is accessible, butnot prevalent.
In addition, media most definitely can have both positive and negativeeffects on mental health, however, the latter is given more considerationthroughout the essay as a way to encourage awareness and constructive action. Somehow, society has managed to produce anentire generation of youth with mental health issues. In the Philippines, onein five suffer from a mental disorder, more specifically 17-20% in adults and 10-15%in children between 5 to 15 years old.
The World Health Organization reported2,558 cases of suicide in the Philippines in 2012 alone. As said by Tugade (2017),”mental illness hits the most vulnerable sectors of society— the young and the poor”. The stigma in the Philippines is particularly large,especially in a culture that emphasizes lightheartedness and resilience in theface of struggle, making it difficult for issues such as these to be talkedabout more openly. Not only that, but other problems such as the cost ofseeking professional help and even the lack of availability of psychiatristsand therapists in the country makes it all the more difficult to recover.
Thereare a variety of factors that affect mental health, with the media being one ofthem. Mediais defined in the dictionary as the “main means of masscommunication(television, radio, newspapers) regarded collectively”. It mayalso be defined as the “intervening substance through which sensory impressionare conveyed or physical forces are transmitted”. Major divisions in mediainclude print, such as books and newspapers; broadcast, such as television and radio(video games may be considered under this);and cloud/web based media such as the content in the World Wide Web(socialmedia may be considered to be under this division). RA1 One of the things media now plays a largerole in is in interpersonal relationships, seen most evidently in the rise ofsocial networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and the like. Suchsites encourage the formation of new connections, broadening the scope fromconcrete relations with others into an opportunity to interact with those fromhalfway across the world. In addition, it allows for the sharing of preciousmemories as well as keeping friends updated on our well-being.
However, it isnot perfect. Due to the decrease in time spent inface-to-face interactions, a corresponding decline in communication withparents and family members was seen to be observed. This is seen not only withregards to the use of social media, but also in the impact of television,especially among the younger age cohorts. More time online may lead to a lossof sleep, lowered self-esteem, and increased risk in depression and anxiety (Jakobsons,2016). Kraut et al.
(1998) had published one of the first topics on the matter,in which it was pointed out that Internet use in general significantly affectspersonal life and interpersonal relations (qtd in Pantic, 2014). However, astudy published online in Computers inHuman Behaviour in December 2016 found a stronger correlation between usageof multiple social media platforms with depression in young adults rather thanextended time online (qtd in Zagorsky, 2017). The study found the following:The analysis showed that people who reported using the mostplatforms (seven to 11) had more than three times the risk of depression andanxiety (odds ratio of 3.
08 and 3.27, respectively) than people who used theleast amount (zero to 2 platforms).These increased odds held true evenafter adjusting for the total time spent on social media and other factors suchas race, gender, relationship status, education, and income.
A possible link to this increase in depression,according to Primack (qtd in Zagorsky), may be seen in the increased likelihoodof multitasking, such as switching between multiple social networking platformsat a time. This was seen to be linked with “poorer attention, cognition, andmood” (para. 7).
It is worth noting that it may also be the other way around,in that those who are in a depressive mood use more social networking sites (Davila,2017, qtd in Zagorski). Davila also acknowledged that time spent online was notstrongly linked to depressive symptoms, but rather it was the negativeexperiences such as gaffes and cyberbullying that increased this likelihood. In addition, Pantic (2014), who pointedout that the primary activity in social networking platforms isself-presentation, which can cause or at least promote narcissistic behavior.
Sourcesdisagree on as to whether this increases or decreases the user’s self-esteem, however,it is emphasized that social networking sites allow the user to optimize theirself-presentation more effectively than in face-to-face interactions. However, Herrera(2016) argues that due to this, a culture of both over and selective sharing hasalso emerged. In spite of this, consideration of how this sort of activity affectsone’s mental health is often disregarded. Selectively posting only the bestaspects of our life may give a false or even filtered sense of reality. Aperson may critically examine their own lives in comparison to the “lives” thathe/she sees online (while they themselves may post their own filtered life inorder to gain recognition by others).
As a result, there is a “grass is greeneron the other side” mentality being produced, which then results in a morefragile mental state. Another issue that has beenraised thanks to the advent of media, more specifically social media, is theproblem of cyberbullying. As pointed out by Nixon (2014), cyberbullying differsfrom traditional bullying “in that reaches an unlimited audience with increasedexposure across time and space, preserves words and images in a more permanentstate, andlacks supervision” (p. 143).
Perpetrators do not see the faces of theirvictims/targets, and thus may not feel the gravity of their actions, whichdecreases the feeling of personal accountability?a phenomenon often referred toas “disinhibition effect”. In general, the studiesconducted thus far have mainly concentrated on either the adolescents’ tendencyto internalize issues (seen in the development of disorders, suicidal behavior,and even somatic symptoms), or its less prolific counterpart of externalizingissues (such as finding links to substance abuse and delinquency among others).Research indicates a correlation between cyberbullying and depression, lowself-esteem, social anxiety, suicidal behavior, and poorer relationships withparents and peers among many more (p. 147). In addition, victims may not knowtheir perpetrators, which contributes toan added fear of the identity of this person?who could be anyone, even theirclosest friends. The effects of cyberbullyingare also not only psychological, but also physical, such as problems concerningsleep and appetite. A multiethnic sample was studied in Hawai’i by Goebert etal.
in 2010, where it was reported that more than 56.1% had been victim ofcyberbullying in the previous year. It has also been revealed that ethnicity,gender, grade, and cyberbullying victimization were predictors of negativemental health. With regards to the externalization of these issues, it has beenshown that there may be a correlation between cyberbullying and substance abuseand weapon-carrying, with victims in a study conducted by Ybarra et. al. (qtdin Nixon, 2014) finding that victims were up to eight times more likely tocarry a weapon to school.
Aside from interpersonal relationships,media also has a profound influence on the youth’s social adjustment. This isthe effort made by an individual to cope or conform with the standards, values,and needs of society to gain acceptance(“Social Adjustment”, n.d.).
Acceptanceand belongingness play a large role in mental health, especially in those inthe adolescent to young adult stage. With that being said, the media can act asa proliferator of these values, and may become a source of pressure for them tomeet and conform to certain ideals, giving the belief that one must be acertain way in order to be accepted. Conventionally, one’s parents are the mainfacilitators of this process, as they are to guide their children into theireventual integration into society when they become adults; however, depictionsin the media play a large role too, and the youth may find themselvesvulnerable to these depictions. Teenagers and adolescents’ hesitance inasking adults for guidance is not a new concept. However, this wariness maydirect them to the media, where advice that they may find would often be misguided.This is especially true for social media, magazines, radio, and television. Aspectssuch as eating, exercise, and buying habits as well as mental health.
Fromthis, they may develop misguided ideals, especially when they are not aware ofthe affect that these media have on them, and feel pressure to conform to acertain perceived “norm” (which in . As such, it is important to promote medialiteracy and for parents to discuss these with their children even at a youngage. In relation to this misplaced seeking ofguidance, it may also be that there is a tendency to “get used to” what theysee on the media, even believe that it is normal. This is especially dangerouswhen considering the desensitizing and oftentimes glorifying of violence andgore due to the popularity of video games and music videos, and even the manyadvertisements and commercials shown online.
According to Pediatrics and ChildHealth (2003), more than a thousand studies confirm the correlation of exposureto violence in media to aggressive behavior, particularly in boys. This may affectthe level of empathy that is developed. This is not only limited to violence;in fact, it extends to alcohol, smoking, drugs, sex (especially premarital sex)and false stereotypes (p. 303). Thus, the content shown in media is seen as asocial cue and a false guide that may result in the thinking that such behavioris the norm.
From the development of such behavior, themental health of not only the person in question but also those around them areaffected. Aggression may present itself in the form of bullying, ostracizing,discriminating, and other behavior that all have a negative effect on others’mental health. Thus,the effect of the media becomes not only first-hand, but second-hand as well.RA2 The depictions themselves give off the impression that it is not only normal,but also common and risk-free.
Thus, the consequences of sexual behavior suchas STI’s and unwanted pregnancy are overlooked (Pediatrics and Child Health,2003, p. 302). However, the pressure and depictions ofthe media are not only limited to the behavioral aspect, but also extends tothe physical. This is especially hard-hitting for women, who are bombarded withadvertisements, depictions on TV, video games, music videos, print media, andInternet posts and sources that glorify an arguably unreachable and unhealthyideal. In addition, the way in which women’s bodies are shown is overlysexualized, and “mass media’s proliferation of sexualized images of the femalebody is fast and thorough”, which may result in women adopting an observer’sperspective on their own bodies (Friedrickson and Roberts, 1997, p. 177). It isnot uncommon to see advertisements more aligned towards the body and physicalattributes of women, creating an implicit sexual gaze (p.
176). This sexualobjectification aids not only in the issue of gender discrimination, but alsoaids in employment discrimination and even the trivialization of women’s workand accomplishments. For the youth in particular, this helps in producing anunreachable ideal for young women, often resulting in body-image and self-esteemissues. This may extend to men, who feel apressure to suppress emotion in an effort to be more masculine and thereforemore “appealing”.
Thus, the notion of how one is to behave, look, and act arespread by the media. The youth, seeing such images around them, may feel theneed to conform to these ideals in order to gain acceptance by society. It isimportant to note that conformance to such ideals (or the desire to) is not necessarilynegative so long as it is healthy, and with the understanding that a person has the freedom tobe whatever they want to be. RA1Confirm+ add source RA2Confirmthis