Teens and Media

Recently I was looking a materials for a fall program centred on Creation.  One of the offerings included programs for children, teens and adults.  The group begins together and then breaks into smaller groups.  In one version of these activities, they encourage the leader to ask teenagers: “What are the television commercials that you particularly like? Why do you particularly like them?”

Teenagers and media

For many years, these questions would have been meaningful and relevant to teenagers.  I watched television as a teenager as did most, likely up until about 10 years ago.  While we did have the capacity to tape shows and thus fast forward through commercials, this process involved actual VHS tapes which was clunky.

In 1999, companies began to introduce digital recording options which allowed content to be stored on the device rather than a separate tape.  These remained dependent upon the networks to provide the content so that individuals could record it for later viewing.  While advantageous, there was still a fair bit of television that was watched live along with the commercials it included.

Moving to Online Content

Enter Netflix.  In 2007, Netflix expanded its business to include streaming media.  With the introduction of streaming media, people no longer had to intentionally reference television guides and record live shows.  Rather, they could simply access the content they wanted and press play.  This can be done from a television, computer, tablet and cell phone.  Compounding the options are opportunities to view content via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and News feeds.  While commercials do pop up, it is far easier to ignore these than ever before.

Paying Attention

Recognising the variety of options available, it is important that adults pay attention to the ways young people consume media.  Consider the ice bucket challenge, the cinnamon challenge and the tide pod challenge.  There have been multiple times in which a trending challenge has encouraged young people to participate in activities that are not only dangerous but could actually be deadly!

As well, with so many options available, the opportunities for a family to sit together in front of the television and thus engage in conversation about the content being watched are reduced.  Thus, it can be harder to create family time, explore themes within the content which young people consume and, at times, ensure that what our children see is appropriate.

What do you do?

Recognising the challenges of media consumption today, what efforts are made in your house to ensure that young people access appropriate content, create space for conversation about themes and spend time doing or watching things together?

We want to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments.

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