Technology surrounds everything that children participate in nowadays. From using computers to watching television, the media influences children in just about every activity that they are a part of. The mainstream and social media have had a great impact on the behavior of children, as they are consistently exposed to numerous forms of the media at all times. As technology advances and children are more and more prone to watching television and participating in activities over the Internet, children will always be affected by how the media is presented to them. It can be difficult to shelter children from the growing media influence, however, the effects of this phenomenon on both the psychological and cognitive development of children need to be analyzed and considered (Christakis & Zimmerman, 2009).
Social life has been completely revolutionized due to the existence of the Internet and the development of social media. Social media venues target just about every population in the world and children are no sort of exception. The biggest issue with the existence of the social media world is in the lack of privacy that these mediums offer (Bargh & McKenna, 2003). Privacy is a concern among adults from any sort of background. This concern stems from the potential effects on their children. The idea of one's life being broadcasted so that everyone is able to know what is going on, scares a lot of individuals from even participating in social media world (Bargh & McKenna, 2003). With the lack of privacy that the Internet offers, children are growing up to think that it is quite acceptable to participate in activities online that provides them with the promise of anonymity. Any sort of inclination toward confidentiality through social media is false. What has not come to the full understanding of the children living in today's society is that although anonymity is promised by numerous social media outlets, that idea does not really exist (Anderson & Hanson, 2009). Children participate in these sorts of activities, without completely realizing that whatever is written or posted on the Internet will forever stay there.
The permanent structure of social media outlets may allow for children to make mistakes that they will not be able to rid themselves of in the future. This sort of effect can range in children of all ages (Oakes, 2009). Despite proper adult supervision, it can become difficult for parents to constantly monitor their children's computer usage. With so much going on in today's society, children are practically left to fend for themselves on the Internet, as it has become a normal part of everyday life for a lot of individuals (Christakis & Zimmerman, 2009). Since exposure to the social media outlets is a common occurrence, the effects are not really felt as they blend into the daily manifestations of everyday life. If parents are unable to adequately provide monitoring of the computer and Internet usage of these children, the effects on their future development will be altered. Psychologically they develop a tendency to ignore authority figured, while simultaneously losing the filter that would have been present had there been no media outlet (Oakes, 2009).
Although social media gains constant attention due to its novelty and its known and documented effects on the lives of children, the mainstream media is just as much to blame for the negative developmental consequences that children have had to endure. To begin with, self-image is an essential topic of concern among children of all ages. The mainstream media broadcasts images of artists, models, and celebrities that give children an unrealistic image to live up to (Stice, Maxfield, & Wells, 2003). They form these schemas of who they think other people want them to be, and as a result form idealistic expectations about how it is that they should be looking and acting. The mainstream media constantly broadcasts stories about the wonderful lives of artists who have no worries in the world and who live in some sort of utopian hold of the universe (Chau, 2010). However, despite the idealistic conditions under which the media describe these artists as living in, the negative effects on children begin to accumulate. They form false expectations about how they should be living their lives (Oakes, 2009). They mimic what they are exposed to, and as a result, many detrimental attitudes are inherited.
The self-image of children is being altered due to the development of the mainstream and social media. Children are constantly reminded how fat and overweight everyone is, including themselves. The mainstream media showcases the health effects of being overweight, but they do not focus on the effects of also being underweight (Stice, Maxfield, & Wells, 2003). Instead, these media outlets, both mainstream and social, constantly show images of celebrities that are about fifty pounds underweight, and broadcast it as if it were a completely normal occurrence. As previously mentioned, this creates a sense of false hopes for the girls of today who are attempting to live up to the images of these celebrities. The lives of boys are also affected, as they begin to take on the attitudes of the men being shown on television (Ponte, 2007). All of these factors together form an atmosphere that hinders the proper emotional development of children by allowing them create a false sense of who they think that they are supposed to be.
One of the greatest effects of mainstream and social media on children is the media's inability to censor itself anymore. The filter that existed no longer does. Not too long ago, the media had rules that they had to follow. They had images and videos that they were not allowed to show to the public. They had stories that they were not allowed to publish. However, that has all changed. To begin with, the Internet provides media correspondents with unregulated forms of social media (Chau, 2010). This means that they are able to put just about anything on the Internet and are able to report on just about any topic, whether it is unacceptable or not, and can broadcast it to millions of viewers to see -- including millions of children who also have regular access to these venues (Livingstone & Helpser, 2006). Children are therefore exposed to forms of real life violence. They are able to read and witness news stories from around the world that may or may not be appropriate for their age.
Although the lack of regulation is something that exists over the Internet, the mainstream media is also affected because they are competing against these social media outlets (Ponte, 2007). By creating such a competitive atmosphere, children get caught in the crossfire. Today's children get exposed to things on the television mainstream media that they may not have in previous generations because the lack of censorship on the Internet has allowed for those same uncensored stories to be broadcasted on television. Children are then able to witness all of this negativity. Their innocence is lost at such an early age because parents are no longer able to completely shelter their children from the reality that the news media outlets are able to expose (Anderson & Hanson, 2009).
Although there are many negative aspects to the development of mainstream and social media, these venues have also created a positive atmosphere for children. Because of the existence of mainstream and social media, children are now exposed to the lives of other people, especially other children, across the globe (von Feilitzen, 2012). The cultural opportunities that exist now are a result of the technology that is now available. Children are exposed to different cultures on a consistent basis because of the great insurgence of the Internet and the mainstream and social media (von Feilitzen, 2012). They are able to experience how others from another country are living, and can learn to appreciate all of the cultural and ethnic diversity that exists. Although exposure to diverse communities is not as new of a thing as it once was, the easiness by which this can be done now is outstanding. Children no longer have to depend on books to learn about how it may be like to live as a member of another culture -- they are able to directly communicate and speak with people personally (Christakis & Zimmerman, 2009). This is all due to the impact that social media has had on this generation of children.
As a result of the direct exposure to mainstream and social media, children are now able to become more knowledgeable about the world. Although previously, the negative aspects of mainstream and social news media were highlighted, the positive aspects can also be seen. Being exposed to the news of current events allows children to be more aware of their surroundings (Mangold & Faulds, 2009). Through social media, mainstream media has been able to form its impact. News stories that need absolute coverage because of the severity of its contents, can now easily and quickly be spread through social…