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When people talk about "the media," they mean lots of forms of communication—like television, radio, magazines, books, newspapers, movies, billboards, and online chats, blogs, websites, and ads.
The media has a huge impact on people and societies all over the world. Through media, we get news, opinions, entertainment, advertising and more. In the U.S., we see and hear a lot of it. Media can really engage our minds, sometimes without us even knowing (ever find yourself "sucked in" to a TV show or commercials that you didn't intend to watch?) For all these reasons, media can affect the way that people think, feel, and act.
It's both. Sometimes media's influence is a good thing (like if your favorite show gave you an idea for handling bullies, or if you saw parts of the world that you may not ever visit). Sometimes it's a bad thing (like when little kids act out the fighting they see in movies, or teenagers go on unhealthy diets trying to look like the super-skinny models on TV).
Media influences everyone. It can give us impressions about what's the norm out there. Like, if lots of movies, TV shows, and songs on the radio talk about using illegal drugs, you might get the impression that lots of people use drugs. In reality, most people don't—but, the media you see and hear might make you start to wonder.
Media messages can make us want to buy products, and try to look a certain way. Media can even affect how people view themselves and who they aspire to be. For example, almost half (47%) of the girls in one study were influenced to want to lose weight by magazine pictures of thin women. BUT, only 29% of the girls were actually overweight in the first place.
Need some good news?! Media keeps us in touch with the action in our communities and the world. Lots of media tackle serious topics like racism and the environment. Many reporters work hard to uncover the truth in business, politics, and human rights. There are even ads to convince people to quit smoking, and to eat healthier. Some shows, websites, and magazines teach us about day-to-day stuff like handling money. And, some deliver comic relief.
In the end, it's your job to "get it" about how the media shows you the world—to appreciate the good, and be aware of the bad. BAM can help.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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