Mental Health: How Television Affects Teen Self Esteem

In a modern day world—where technology is used on a daily basis—we find ourselves being subject to television for hours on end. But, as a result of such, we’re oftentimes desensitized by it—failing to recognize the consequences that it leaves behind on the human mind. For, the general population takes in several messages at a time, whether it be through commercial, split screen, or multiple shows and movies. And in doing so, we find that individuals may begin to develop a series of problems centering around their self esteem.

First and foremost is the negative effect—that television can have—on one’s self esteem. Self esteem is defined as “confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self respect.” In turn, as teens begin to develop such, they can find it being stripped away just as quick by the films they surround themselves with—and/or what they chose to watch. Of course, there are benefits that come through television—such as providing a number of individuals with newsworthy information, and/or knowledge, that they might not have been able to gain otherwise. However, when one begins to look at the wrong messages—rather than the right ones—it can begin to pose as more of a disadvantage than a benefit.

For example, if a certain show comes on—no matter the genre—and introduces an eating disorder, substance abuse, and other such things, this can cause teens to view themselves in a different light. It might trigger certain feelings/emotions within them depending on how they see themselves when they look in the mirror before they go to school in the morning, and can pose as an even bigger problem if they already struggle with such things. In turn, this can weigh on their self esteem, as girls compare themselves to those on TV, feeling as though a “Size 2” is what they need to be beautiful. The same can go for boys—as they see the next dose of pre-workout being advertised—causing them to feel as though they need to “bulk up” to be considered masculine. The possible scenarios listed above are only some of the various triggers that teens can experience when watching TV. Yet still, such triggers can result in teens comparing themselves to the actors on “the tube”, or their surrounding peers.

In conclusion, television can affect teen self esteem in a number of unhealthy ways if teens don’t remain careful of the material/messages they subject themselves to, and how much they take in of each. As a result of such, they must make sure to develop a good sense of media literacy, to not only gain knowledge—but the ability to discern between certain content—in order to maintain good mental health. Therefore, as teens allow themselves to interact with the world which surrounds them, rather than a virtual world all it’s own, they can begin to see their well being flourish, against the weight of negative media messages which threaten to hold them back.

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