Can you relate? if not then ask your parents if they can relate, full of anticipation, running to friends right after school and ringing the doorbell stormily and then asking if mates can come out to play? Some were busy collecting mattresses and blankets to build a cozy cave, or looking for dirt, stones, and flowers in the garden to make a delicious mud soup. In the past, countless childhood days were played out without the influence of the media. But what does everyday life for children look like today? And how does the media influence the personal development of the individual?
In the generation that is currently growing up, you can observe every single stage of development, because it is not for nothing that these millennials or Web 2.0 generation are called. Even small children are directly affected by the technology. Be it through the father or mother who sits in front of the laptop due to work, or through their siblings who attend online courses or scroll through their apps. Growing up with the media is therefore natural and inevitable. It is therefore not surprising that toddlers gain their first experience in dealing with the media very early on. They imitate the previously observed handling of technical devices. As they get older, they slowly begin to put this interest which they learned early into practice, and use whatever medium is given to them. The development of child-friendly games for tablets and smartphones makes the initial attempts to master them a lot easier. Media have become indispensable; they are now often replacing toys that were once much loved. The older the children get, the more the media act as entertainment and learning opportunities and are used for a wide variety of purposes.
If you ask around and look around nowadays, you realize that technical devices no longer just have to serve their purpose. They are also considered a fashion accessory or an object of prestige. The “Apple” brand is a very good example of this. With their sophisticated strategy, they have created an empire out of the brand. Several times a day, their apparently omnipresent advertising reminds us of it again and again. But media also have another, far more useful, function and meaning. If a presentation is due again or you want to look up a word, you simply open Google and get your information. If you are bored because you have to wait for your friend, you switch on your cell phone, scroll through Instagram, and listen to music. The entertainment factor in particular also plays a major role in the media industry. So the fun is not neglected. However, social media also act as support when it comes to forming an opinion about something. Various apps such as “Spiegel Online”, “Tagesschau” or “N24” are available on the mobile phone for this purpose, and they upload various articles about politics, culture, sport, and much more on a daily basis.
When it comes to interpersonal communication, spatial distance only plays a minor role thanks to social networks. Many young people move to other cities because of their studies or a change in the family location. Media such as “WhatsApp”, “Facebook” or “Skype” is very useful here to maintain friendship and still be able to participate in the life of the other. However, the not yet completed development of the child into a socially competent person can be negatively influenced or even severely impaired by the media. Political socialization is an example of this: through extremism and agitation against the “system” or against specific groups of people, a young, a not yet stable person is acted upon quickly and effectively.
In addition, sexualized song lyrics and pornography can create misconceptions about sexuality, which can affect sexual development and feelings. Moral development can also be strongly influenced by the media. Almost every young person knows the famous games like “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield”, and has perhaps played them themselves. Here, however, not only war and its negative consequences are shown, but above all armed violence as a promising means to achieve one’s goals is presented. This glorification of violence can lead to restlessness and thus to a constant state of excitement and ultimately to increased aggressive behavior. In the worst-case scenario, players end up in juvenile delinquency. Media consumption takes time which means that other activities have to be shortened or canceled. According to the 2020 study, 48% of adolescents used their cell phones every day or several times a week, whereas “only” 23% were active in youth groups. Today, the whole thing looks probably more extreme. Teenagers become increasingly passive, which can have long-term health implications. In addition, the increased consumption of media of all kinds can trigger cognitive overload in the brain due to the overstimulation, which can lead to mental desolation or even dementia. The constant advertisements on television, in Internet articles, or in newspapers also often exert enormous pressure on the person to consume the product presented, as otherwise, they could draw a disadvantage from it or not belong to the group. This peer pressure and the fear of missing out on something important leads to constant availability and represents an extreme potential for distraction, which ultimately affects concentration. Probably everyone knows this phenomenon when it comes to studying for upcoming exams or other important things.
According to surveys, 95% of young people have an Instagram or Snapchat account or even both. There they follow their friends, but also stars or smaller idols. These so-called influencers on Instagram show us the seemingly perfect life. Many believe this staging and mistakenly thought that life behind the camera really looks the same. The self-presentation on the Internet in general is very important for many. They feel an inner pressure to maintain their image. This is of course widespread among influencers and stars, as they get their jobs with Instagram posts and thus finance for their living.
However, especially in the case of young, gullible people who do not have very much self-confidence, this illusory world can lead to a distortion in the self-image and worldview, dissolve the boundaries of identity, and massively disrupt the formation of identity. The anonymity on the Internet, the hatred, the dissatisfaction as well as the envy of the people bring so-called haters with them. They use internet platforms to let their feelings run free, to bully, and to humiliate public persons. However, they are often not aware that those affected suffer very badly. Later consequences in the form of a decrease in self-confidence.
However, anonymity is not only negative, because shy and reserved people get the chance to find friends through the media and their platforms, to communicate with them, and thus to build their self-confidence. Most use the media primarily for social interaction. Be it to find out what homework is up, to make appointments, or to report on the latest from life. Media often give you the feeling that you are connected to others. Identity formation is enormously promoted through the possibility of self-realization and the various ways there are. Not only globalization, the cultures in a society, but also the media support the personal development of an open-minded, tolerant, and self-confident person. The enormous network also makes it possible to learn more from others and to receive help. Apps like “Timetable”, “Alarm Clock”, “Reminders” and “Calendar” create better time management and organization, which saves you a lot of time and everything is clearer. In the past, you had to go to the city library or ask various people every time to get information. Fortunately, nowadays we have the chance to obtain information very easily through the various possibilities that are given to us, which extremely facilitates and promotes the acquisition of knowledge and thus the learning of new things. Certain television programs such as “PTV Tele School” which make it easier to learn something new and support the creativity of young children.
Media makes our everyday lives easier in many situations and offers various advantages. Despite everything, the disadvantages should not be neglected or viewed as harmless, as they can negatively affect our personality development, our psychological and physical health. A short break in the fresh air, a few sports units a month, and meeting friends in real life create the perfect balance.
Thoughts and opinions of : Ashar