|The Effects of Print Media on Youth and Society in General|
Print media is still a strong medium for information and communication. It is one of the “indispensable” tools of society that helps every individual to communicate and correspond to each other. It is primarily used as a tool for getting news and information, advertising, marketing campaigns, entertainment, expression and criticism, art and talents, and other forms of human interaction.
But aside from the benefits, it can still be a significant contributor of false and misleading information and data. We might not notice it, but a lot of our behavior and perception are influenced by the images we see print media[i]. Nonetheless, we all possess the responsibility of filtering the information we get from it.
It’s common knowledge that most magazine and newspaper advertisements show photos and images of people are who physically and socially “perfect“. A model for beauty soap will have very dewy and fair skin, a facial cream endorser will have a blemish-free face, a food and diet supplement actor will possess the most attractive body that one could hope for, or perhaps a treadmill model will have six-pack abs.
How does this affect teens and children? The answer is simple – it is responsible for providing them with a negative impression of themselves. When a teen girl or a young woman sees herself as someone who isn’t even comparable in terms of physical looks and figure, she’s led to believe that it is her job to become as perfect as possible, just like what’s seen on print media.
At first, this may sound normal and positive, as it becomes an inspiration for anyone to develop themselves physically. However, there is a thin line that borders inspiration and obsession. As soon as the teen becomes too preoccupied in developing her looks, she starts to build a disturbing obsession towards it. This obsession can eventually lead to unhealthy lifestyle and behavior. For those who see that being thin and slim is popular, they are greatly encouraged to eat less or even eat nothing just to lose weight in an instant.[ii] Furthermore, girls are taught to see their physical appearance as a measure of their worth. [iii] We suggest that boys can fall victim to this same view of girls.
The reason why these images are so powerful lies in the wiring of the human brain. Think about it, photography itself is a recent invention when compared to all of human history. Our brains were not made to accurately interpret photographic images the same way we interpret written words. Thus, images are automatically seen as being true and elicit an emotional response before a person has a chance to actually think about what they’re seeing.[iv] Ironically, the “perfect” images that so many try to live up to are just airbrushed and edited photos. In other words, they’re fake.
In conclusion, how do we protect our boys and girls from this false standard of perfection? For the church, the answer is simple; we must fight deception with the Truth. In Psalm 139:14, God’s Word says “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”. God made us look the way He wanted us to look, and He does not make mistakes.