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What is Media? Media is the means of mass communication (broadcasting, publishing, and internet) regarded collectively. It gathers information, thoughts, ideas, and transmits them to the public eye. The media intends to reach large audiences. The bigger the better in most cases. There are different forms of media. The most common form is modern media which includes television, film, mobile devices, and even video games. Through time media has advanced and has become easily accessible. Older forms of media have become accessible through modern forms. Newspapers, the most known older form of physical media, is now readable on tablets, computers, and phones. Most devices give automatic news updates without having to install any applications. It is important to note that the argument being established is only regarding the United States and no other countries. In the U.S. alone there is a total of approximately 283 million technology users compared to the population size of 327 million. This is a substantial amount when considering the child population that is incapable of using technology. With this wide use of technology, there is a substantial amount of people that use media for multiple reasons. Media affects all aspects of life such as entertainment, work, school, and relationships. Each country and region and the teens that make up the countries are all individually different from that of the U.S. and each other. Some of this grand use of media within teens will seep into politics and government.
Teens have been influenced by media for not only decades but centuries. From the mid-1900s and the live streaming of presidential campaigns to the early 2000s and the easy access to political opinions to the earliest records of the printing press in the 1400s. Other forms of early media included telegraphs, cinema, music, and radio. The newest and most easily accessible form of media is the internet. The internet was created in the late 20th century and quickly grew from there. The internet allowed for information to be searched and spread quicker than previous forms such as visiting the library to retrieve information about a president or call a newspaper about an event so that the newspaper could then publish it a few days later. With the spike in internet usage and the rapid spread of thoughts and ideas, the effect on the human psyche comes into question. Applications like Instagram and Twitter have a “Like-Button” that acts as a representation for interest has created an uproar on the need for attention amongst teens. A study done by Dr. Dumontheil at Birkbeck University found that receiving internet attention activates new parts of the brain and it can enhance certain areas that have not been activated before, specifically amongst teens. “Likes” and “Comments” have created a new form of fulfillment within the teen brain. New areas of the brain have been discovered to be activated when using media. These new discovers can help further understand its effect on the brain and could potentially be used for negative advantages. If it is further tested, then the information could land in the hands of the wrong people and could be used to manipulate the minds of young voters and influential teens. Adrenaline is released from the body when individuals feel pleasure and this pleasure can simply be a “Like” on a picture so addictions can be formed from the use of social media. This information helps understand why media targeting is important amongst teens to get a point across. This connects to the susceptibility within teens to accept or reject certain beliefs. When it comes to different age groups, the average adult is influenced by media so therefore teens are even more significantly influenced. This is due to teens being in an era of their lives that is easily impressionable. They are constantly searching for who they are and what they believe in. A person becomes impressionable from the moment they are born by the people that surround them from their parents, friends, and what they see through technology. Technology has opened the ability for more people to influence an individual’s life. Media is everywhere, always. From the moment a person wakes up and turns on the news during breakfast to the last scroll on Twitter before falling asleep.
Once teens turn 18, they are most likely going to vote in the next election. It marks one of the turning points into adulthood which is important for them because for many years they have been confined to the limit of their parents and legal guardians. Websites like Twitter have gained a reputation for being an outlet of political views. President Donald Trump is known for having “twitter fingers” whenever he wants to voice his thoughts and opinions on the current political climate. Social media platforms have become a key part of initiatives from politicians whether it be creating conflict or genuinely spreading their message. The greatest user of social media is the average teen. Researcher Amanda Lenhart found that 92% of teens, ages from 13 to 17 years, go online every day. This creates a time frame for new ideas to be embedded in the minds of impressionable teens. Teens are constantly surrounded by news and opinions. Whether it is from technology or basic human interaction in person. The original contributor for beliefs is a child’s parent. They care for a child for years and a child spends much of their time with their parents. Adults, and more specifically parents, act as an authority figure for children from a young age are usually taught to listen to authority from parents themselves. On a more basic level children need their parents for biological reasons such as protection. Within the process of receiving protection from parents, a connection is created and that makes children respect the thoughts and opinions of parents. In short, this shapes the political views of teens. Not only do parents shape teens and spread their ideas but so do teachers, friends, and even strangers. Connected to parents, the accepting of ideas from those other people stems from respect. Teens are constantly bombarded with what they should and shouldn’t believe and technology and media have just made it easier to add to that extreme wave of beliefs they are already faced with every day. Education accessibility plays a minor role in political views amongst teens because with the power to learn about the history and past politics it creates an environment for open discussion amongst peers and teachers. If an individual were to lack political vocabulary, then their understand of what is happening within the government will be limited and in term discourage them from being involved and not voting when voting is an essential component of government. Media and technology have made it possible for people to acquire the needed resources to educate themselves. Online school and widely known services such as Rosetta Stone allow people to learn different topics. Especially with Rosetta Stone, individuals moving to a new country with a different language can learn the language and that can help them be more involved with politics because understanding would be more possible. With the growing availability of media, there has been a growth in political participation in adults. Lenhart found that adult online use has grown from 41% in 2006 to 90% in 2015. This greatly includes new young adults that were teens in the 21st century. Along with great participation among adults, those adults will influence children and teens.
Since the Civil Rights Movement in the ’50s, political activity has been on a rise. An important question to ask is, did media cause a change in the past? Civil Rights Movement landmarked a time in U.S. history where the public influenced all aspects of life at the time. It created hope amongst teens especially since the movement would most directly affect them in the future and their quality of life. However, this landmark was not reached on pure thoughts and prayer but what caused its significance is action. Action through media sparked a new fire within the political scene. Conservative expressing media outlets were attacked verbally and, in some cases, physically. Whether the physical attacks were justified or not is up for discussion, but this created a demand for change. Many teens in the 21st century have taken inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement and the techniques during the time to demand change in the present time. New and different forms of media during the Civil Rights Movement were sprouted to create spread a new agenda to the public. Liberal/Democratic expressing newspapers and radio appeared which were founded to spread certain group’s political views and act as a platform for others to voice their stories. When looking at the 21st century, creating online newspapers and blogs is relatively easy. Many online political blogs and newspapers have created an agenda based on spreading thoughts amongst teens, such as Affinity Magazine. This stands as a prime example of teens being politically involved and their desire to learn and teach. Apps like Countable are created for the sole purpose of being more involved with the political climate. Countable allows people to view the standings of congress, vote on public forums, and gather with others for protests, marches, and even door-to-door campaigning. Since the majority of technology users are teens, they contain the knowledge on how to utilize these applications. Adults in today’s society are stereotyped with not knowing to use technology. Like mentioned before, the Civil Rights Movement showed political promise and today’s online climate shows political promise as well. The 21st century marks a new landmark in history.
Along with the past demonstrating political promise, it also showed political improvement. The abolition of segregation, opinions against conformity, the appearance of flappers, the growth of the feminist movement, the creation of the Black Panther Party and the birth of labor unions were all influenced by teens and their political wants and wishes. These prime examples help further evaluate the effect teens have in the 21st century. Today’s teens are seen fighting issues such as obesity, lack of mental health representation, underrepresentation of people of color, immigration, and women’s rights. Many argue that the Civil Rights Movement is still seen today and will continue to be seen in the future. Although the issues have changed, they are still critical to law and policymaking in the U.S. and show the progression of the past as it continues. Older issues are fought against, although sometimes not thoroughly. The need for action has continued and determination has reached an all-time high. A prime example of determination would be the March for Our Lives movement that flourished after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. They express how media helped them show their frustrations and what they believed the government should do to prevent future mass shootings. Media acted as an outlet for those affected and has created a revolution for movements.
How has the past been affected by media? How are teens shown in the past? These are two important questions derived from the previous information to show the significance of media in the future. It helps create a better future. History is meant to analyze the past to make a more progressive future. Past events like Nazi Germany poses as a prime example of what to learn from the past. More specifically how Hitler used media to spread his message. Hitler used media to gain support from teens and in terms of influencing other teens due to peer pressure. Hitler Youth is an exact example of the effects of his method on teens. He gathered teens to create a collective fight for Nazi ideals. Hitler posted propaganda not only throughout Germany but across the entirety of Europe and Asia. Propaganda included posters, comics, radio broadcasting, and intimidation tactics. The propaganda created a picture-perfect image of the future Nazi dreamed of and that catered to the wants of many people at the time. As Hitler supporters grew amongst adults, the children of the supporters adopted the beliefs of their parents like previously mentioned when children adopt similar ways of thinking from parents due to many reasons. There were some cases, although rarely, in which the children adopted or created their own beliefs and went against the ideals of their parents. Hitler was also known to use a not so conventional form of media, public speeches. Those public speeches done across different areas of the nation were recorded and reported upon on which then spreads the thoughts of the Nazi leader. Targeting teens in political campaigns is a smart move because they are the future. The goal of these political campaigns is to create a change for the greater good and to set a standard for the future and teens are the future. Targeting can also be seen amongst the teens in the U.S. Like Hitler, Trump has influenced teens especially through media. Trump plays on the “Meme Culture” seen amongst teens. This culture revolves around creating jokes regarding different aspects of life and act as a form of relieve and therapy for everyday struggle. Trump has learned to appeal to the younger generation. Like mentioned beforehand, peer pressure plays a role in the influence on teens. Since teens are impressionable at that age then if they have a friend constantly talking about their support for Trump they would feel the pressure to have similar views so they would be liked. This not only applies to Trump and his supporters but any other supports of a certain politician and even just a certain viewpoint. Trump and Hitler present similarities and differences in political influence on teens. They strategically used media to help them when it comes to the teen audience. Exact influence can be broken down into statistics. These statistics will, and have, fostered a change in education.
When boiled down to the basic use of media within teens and their political views, teens are constantly on their phones. Media has led to an era of creativity, knowledge, and revolution. Some could call it a media renaissance. Those who are already interested in politics can easily access the views of politicians or could even possibly ignore the views of politicians and activists. History has shown the significance media has on politics and how teens have used those resources to further the Earth. New history is being created as time goes on and today’s teens will part of that. Their uses of media will be a landmark in a drastic turn of events for strategies. Education will change. It can be seen from many perspectives and it does have many perspectives. Media has created an increase in participation, awareness, and action in the political world. Teens are the future, so their actions are important and will shape what is yet to come.
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