Media & Entertainment
Many a dissertation has been written about the nefarious influence of various forms of media and social media. This page is only a cursory overview to get you thinking, and maybe researching further. There are, of course, plenty of great things about it and as mentioned in other sections, TV, Movies, and books can be helpful to use with kids as a less conspicuous form of education and to open communication between parents and kids (see the Resources and Recommendations page). Social media has potential for both identity development and connectedness.
Social Media and other forms of entertainment pervade most families in America. Children today are the first ever to have devices
Television and movies play a crucial part in how stereotypes are formed because people tend to use the media as a benchmark for their own appearance, behavior, and understanding of the world around them. Gender stereotypes tend to disproportionately affect women and girls, but that doesn't mean that men and boys aren't affected. For example, a common joke in many comedies is the sensitive man. This works because we tend to laugh when something violates our expectations. A man sobbing violates our notion of gender roles and norms for men.
Advertising in print and on TV relies on gender stereotypes extensively, largely because they are playing to a particular audience. Children are an important demographic for advertisers. They capitalize on children's newly forming concepts of gender, magnifying differences for the sake of sales. They tell kids (and us) that boys play with masculine things like trucks and action figures while girls play with feminine things like dolls and kitchen sets.
Three themes describe how media represent gender. First, women are underrepresented which falsely implies that men are the cultural standard and women are unimportant or invisible. Second, men and women are portrayed in stereotypical ways that reflect and sustain socially endorsed views of gender. Third, depictions of relationships between men and women emphasize traditional roles and normalize violence against women. We will consider each of these themes in this section.
Thanks to the media, we have become accustomed to extremely rigid and uniform standards of beauty.
TV, billboards, magazines etc mean that we see 'beautiful people' all the time, more often than members of our own family, making exceptional good looks seem real, normal and attainable.
Standards of beauty have in fact become harder and harder to attain, particularly for women. The current media ideal of thinness for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population.
Few women get to experience a lightness of being in a world weighted with songs, novels, movies and life where the torture and death of beautiful young women are portrayed as exciting and erotic.
And it's not just porn. Kids need a reality check when it comes to the broader category of what Corinna calls "sexual media." Whether it's bikini models on Instagram or hawking beer on TV, the problems are similar. Teens need to hear it from you: Sexual media is fantasy. It's people doing a job for money, and that's not how sex works in the real world.
Nudity can be freeing or empowering, but the way it is often used in the media represents a troubling power dynamic. Women are typically the ones being looked at, and men are typically the ones presumed to be looking. The majority of nudes in mainstream art museums are women, and movies with male nudity are more likely to get R ratings than those with female nudity. By assuming a heterosexual male viewer and catering the majority of content for that presumed heterosexual male viewer, TV and film send the message that straight men are the only people who exist — or at least, the only people whose desires matter. It also denies women their subjectivity by giving off the impression that straight women don't have pleasure to gain from looking, and it completely erases any of the many, many other sexualities that exist.