The Adverse Effects of Media Consumption on Adolescents

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Statistics on Media Consumption among Adolescents

Statistics show that children and adolescents spend an astonishing amount of their time during the day and at bedtime on electronic media and communication activities. A recent survey conducted by the Common Sense Media to provide paints a clear picture of the use by young people in the United States. According to the outcome of the census, U.S. adolescents (13 to 18 years) spend about averagely nine hours on entertainment media, excluding the time they spend on school or homework (Shapiro 1). The results of the study further indicate that American teens (8 to 12 years) spend an average of approximately six hours on these media. These statistics reveal that the average amount of time teens use on listening to or playing music, watching television, playing computer games, surfing the internet, and using their smartphones to call or "chat" with friends, among other entertainment media uses are startling. Without a doubt, these consume current media consumption patterns among adolescents raise a lot of concerns among parents and pundits. Although the educational, communication and entertainment benefits of electronic media cannot be disputed, the unprecedented amount of time teens increasingly spend on the media is detrimental to their social, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being.

Behavioral Problems Resulting from Excessive Media Consumption

First and foremost, excessive media consumption has increased behavior problems among teens in my local area. Heavy doses of violence depicted on the local TV shows and reality TV programs can contribute aggressive behavior and attitudes, desensitization to among the teens and youth (Strasburger, Donnerstein, and Bushman 572). Violence and aggressive behavioral are perhaps the most detrimental effects of excessive consumption of electronic media in my community. Most of the content in the local television news and reality TV programs feature a lot of instances of gun-related violence. Unfortunately, a great deal of these scenes does not depict the real consequences of the aggressive actions, consequently impairing accurate perception of reality among the teens. Exposure to extreme violence on television and video games has desensitized many teens and youths to real-life violence in my neighborhood. Some of the young people I interact with perceive violence as something that only happens on TV and think such incidences cannot happen to them. Others demonstrate less empathy and unwillingness to help others in need. Others even see violence as something normal and think that aggression is appropriate in many situations. The relationship between media consumption and violence in teenagers in my neighborhood is consistent with the findings of a recent survey that positively related excessive exposure to traditional forms of media (television news and crime programming) to anxiety about victimization and support for harsh crime policies (Roche, Pickett, and Gertz 230). Therefore, there is no doubt that exposure to extreme violence on the media cultivates aggressive behavior among adolescents in my local community.

Public Health Concerns from Excessive Media Consumption

Second, too much consumption of the media is a major public health concern in my locality. Television, video games, and the Internet take time away from play and exercise activities. A significant number of children in my neighborhood spend a large percentage of their free time at school and home watching television and surfing the internet at the expense of engaging in sports, music, art or other physical activities. Consequently, many young people in this area are less physically fit. In addition to the poor lifestyle, the local television exposes these vulnerable teens to poor eating habits, especially consumption of high fat and high energy snack foods. In fact, I strongly attribute to the increased prevalence of obesity and overweight, as well as other chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes reported in my local community to poor television viewing. Research documents the relationship between media consumption and these unhealthy dietary practices. Kenney and Gortmaker found out that individual who watches TV for five and more hours are more likely to consume sugar-sweetened beverages, participate less in physical activity, and suffer obesity (145). The caloric and fat content of most of the products advertised on the local television exceeds the provided diet and nutritional standards and recommendations. Additionally, television normalizes underage drinking and irresponsible sex. Some TV programs show scenes depicting sex and drinking as 'cool' things to do. When teens see sexually explicit and drinking content on TV, they assume that everyone is doing it and therefore no serious consequence to worry about. Consequently, many young people look to fit in often turn to irresponsible drinking and sex. With advertising bombarding teens bombarded with inappropriate content such as sexually explicit and alcohol and high-calorie food ads, health problems such as eating disorders, obesity, and overweight in teenagers is inevitable.

Impact on School Achievement

Third, viewing for TV for many hours leads to low school achievement among the youths in my area. TV viewing is increasingly replacing many activities that generally help with school work. Today, many teenage boys and girls find it difficult to read, complete their homework on time, and pursue their hobbies due to media interference. Most evidently, many boys and girls in my neighborhood tend to read fewer books. Second, it interferes with their sleep patterns. Hysing and his colleagues paint a clear picture of the media impact on quality of sleep in adolescents. The researchers attribute the rising sleep deficiency in this population to the increased use of electronic devices before bedtime in relation to sleep. Their investigation indicates that adolescents spend a lot of time on electronic media not only during the day but also at bedtime (5). In light of their findings, the researchers recommend the inclusion of restrictions on electronic devices in health media use initiatives. Moreover, watching too much television in childhood has also been identified to be a risk factor of dropping out of school and decreased chances of getting a college among the youth (Strasburger, Donnerstein, and Bushman 572). Also, young people who are addicted to TV face difficulties communicating with their classmates, teachers and even family members which adversely compromise their learning and overall school experience. Besides that, too much exposure to TV may damage brain development which is critical to learning later in life. Therefore, watching more TV may inhibit young people's brain development, concentration on their studies, sleep, and imagination and creativity all of which all critical to academic achievement.

Body Image Disturbance

Last but not least, television causes body image disturbance especially in adolescent girls in my community. Television, particularly the reality TV subgenre has adversely corrupted the body image perception and satisfaction among adolescent girls in my area. Many girls and young women strive to attain a certain body size and "figure" which have been idealized and endorsed by the media. While teenage girls strive to become thin their male peers work out to become more masculine as their TV models. These observations have consistently been established in recent studies. In their study of the impact of subtypes of reality television on body image in adolescents, Egbert and Belcher found out that "exposure to competition-based RTV shows (e.g., Dancing with the Stars) predicted increased body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness" (402). The findings of this study confirm the widespread body image dissatisfaction among adolescent boys and girls in my community.


In summary, it is imperative to reiterate that television can benefit teenagers in many ways. It can provide entertainment, news, and even education in terms of helping young people to learn about new things like diverse cultures. However, television has its bad side. It promotes behavior, health, school performance, and body image problems. Therefore, parents and guardians need to understand the adverse consequences of excessive, unregulated media consumption and implement effective measures to safeguard their vulnerable children from age-inappropriate content that can negatively impact their children's health, school work, and behavior.


Egbert, Nichole, and James D. Belcher. "Reality bites: An investigation of the genre of reality television and its relationship to viewers’ body image." Mass Communication and Society 15.3 (2012): 407-431.

Hysing, M., Pallesen, S., Stormark, K. M., Jakobsen, R., Lundervold, A. J., & Sivertsen, B. (2015). Sleep and use of electronic devices in adolescence: results from a large population-based study. BMJ open, 5(1), e006748.

Kenney, Erica L., and Steven L. Gortmaker. "United States adolescents' television, computer, videogame, smartphone, and tablet use: associations with sugary drinks, sleep, physical activity, and obesity." The Journal of pediatrics 182 (2017): 144-149.

Roche, Sean Patrick, Justin T. Pickett, and Marc Gertz. "The scary world of online news? Internet news exposure and public attitudes toward crime and justice." Journal of quantitative criminology 32.2 (2016): 215-236.

Shapiro, Jordan. “Teenagers In The U.S. Spend About Nine Hours A Day In Front Of A Screen.” November 3, 2015. Forbes. Accessed on

Strasburger, Victor C., Ed Donnerstein, and Brad J. Bushman. "Why is it so hard to believe that media influence children and adolescents?." Pediatrics

133.4 (2014): 571-573.

August 21, 2023

Family Health


Child Development Illness

Subject area:

Adolescence Children

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