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What is it in the mass media that has negative effects on teenagers and what measures should governments take to solve this problem?

The 20th century has witnessed unprecedented advancement in virtually all fields of daily life, and the mass media is no exception. However, everything comes at a price. While we enjoy all the conveniences brought by new ways of disseminating information, our teenagers are adversely affected. There is too much in the media that is harmful to young people.(58)

To begin with, the mass media has become a source of violent scenes and gruesome reports. Today’s television programs, for example, are filled with violence and gory sights. Studies have shown that by the age of 18, children, on average, have watched 7000 robberies, 5000 murders and 3000 car chases on TV. What is more, crimes and criminals are often glorified; the victims and sufferings are usually ignored in those programs, for audiences are more interested in the fighting action than the dire consequences. (84)

Also, the availability of adult-only videos and sexually explicit pictures on magazines and various websites contributes greatly to the increase in teenage sexual activities and abortion rate. Girls, as well as boys, are now influenced by stories where teenagers fell in love at first sight and enjoyed passionate love affairs without any commitment, responsibility or health concerns. As a result, they start to experiment with sex at an ever-earlier age. (70)

Impulsive and easily influenced as young people are, they are constantly tricked by advertisements in all forms of media to purchase unnecessary products or spend hours practicing some new ways of keeping fit, which lead to a vast waste of time and money. Moreover, the omnipresent adverts tempt youngsters to pursuit luxurious lifestyles, which are not only unrealistic but also likely to lead teenagers astray.(65)

Prompt measures should be taken to minimize the harmful effects of the media. Stricter censorship code should be implemented regarding the content of television programs and other forms of media. Besides, access to pornography is to be strictly controlled. For instance, children should be barred from Internet cafés and denied access to certain websites. Most importantly, governments should conduct massive educational programs to inform teenagers of the truth about sex, crimes and advertising. Children need to be taught how to distinguish realities from illusions. (84)(361)

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