The media has always had a strong influence on the public, and young people are particularly susceptible to suggestion. Media contribution to substance abuse among teens is an important concern. What adolescents see on television and on the Internet has an impact. Images and ideas are easily transmittable, and it is necessary for teens to learn skills for analyzing and evaluating them. It is up to parents and other adults to help young people see past the messages and make good choices.
Young People And Substance Abuse
Drug abuse rates and rates for drinking and smoking are high for teens and preteens. While the use of certain illegal drugs has decreased among young people, other drugs have become more popular and alcohol remains the most important substance of abuse. A frightening 20 percent of elementary school children have already tried alcohol, and by the senior year of high school that number has gone up to nearly three-quarters. Marijuana is also popular, with more than half of all adolescents giving it a try.
Peer Pressure And Super Peers
Drugs and peer pressure have always gone together. The power of peer pressure is important and in some ways good. Young people need to learn how to fit in with peers to a point. They also need to learn when going against the crowd is better. This is hard to do as a young person, when fitting in seems like the most important thing in the world. Sometimes being able to fit in means drinking or using drugs.
It is important to also recognize the power of super peers. These are the influential people that teens never meet. Famous athletes, musicians, movie stars and even Internet stars are influencing teens to use drugs, drink and smoke. Peer pressure and parental values may be the strongest influences in a teen’s life, but the power of super peers cannot be ignored.
How Does The Media Impact And Contribute To Teen Substance Abuse?
The super peers get to teens through media, but it isn’t just the individuals that influence the actions of young people. All kinds of media change the way they think and sway them in the decisions they make. Teens spend several hours per day consuming electronic media, including television, social media, Internet and video games. Most teens spend as much time with media as they do in a classroom. Research has shown that media consumption does affect substance abuse. The more time spent with media of any kind, the greater the chance that a teen will drink, smoke or use drugs.
The connection between media and teen substance abuse is clear. More media is linked to greater use of substances. The consequences are serious, which means that teens need to be aware of how media influences their choices. With that knowledge comes the power to think more critically and to make more considered decisions about drugs, drinking and smoking.
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