Media: Good or Bad for our Youth? By: Brittany Fedus & Kara Rubino


pic0023Like it or not, there is no escaping the media.  Most children are directly exposed to vast images which can be interpreted in a positive or negative way.  The reality is children are surrounded by media wherever they turn.  No matter where they come from, media will have a direct impact on their lives.


According to research done by the Kaiser Family Foundation it was found that “American children from six months to six years of age spend as much time with screened media each day as they do playing (about two hours).”


Children today are consuming more television than they did in the past, due to the lack of freedom to play outside, laziness, and availability of technology.  It is certain that many parenting habits and practices have changed over time.  There has been a rise in single parents, many parents may work two jobs, or both parents may work.   Given these factors, parents may not have the time to monitor their children’s television intake.  Therefore, children may be watching television shows that are either harmful or beneficial to them.


Over the past three decades television has taken a drastic turn.  Children are no longer being exposed to media that generally portrays a “perfect life”.  Today’s shows touch upon more sensitive issues and bring light to other cultural backgrounds.  For example, The L Word exposes gay relationships, 24 deals with issues of terrorism, Big Love illustrates the life of a polygamist, and Dora the Explorer begins to teach Spanish to children at a young age.


This change in exposition can be clearly seen through the long running television show, Sesame Street.  Sesame Street has been a forerunner in social change and cultural awareness.  Today it is broadcast in 120 countries and 30 different languages.  It sensitizes adult issues such as AIDS and war, making children globally aware of different cultures.  Sesame Street has created Global Grover to travel the world and teach children to be understanding of everyone’s differences.  Global Grover is being introduced into a “…K-2 curriculum to give teachers the direction and flexibility they need to model global awareness and appreciation in their classroom in a fun, educational, and integrated way.” (Wartella & Knell, 2004)


Children are exposed to varying arrays of content in the media, and it is this content that determines what a child may learn.  Some media is educational and some is inappropriate, but who is to decide?  Adult-directed television programming, internet websites such as you tube, and even some toys can be interpreted differently depending on an individual’s perspective.  


By making young children more culturally aware of controversial issues, they may be open to accept different lifestyles.  Educating our youth about multiculturalism can help our nation to form bonds with other nations.  It can bridge the gaps of misinformation with knowledge and understanding and hopefully lead to mutual appreciation.  Although we hope that the children of our nation are being exposed to quality media and content to make them more culturally aware, we are still left with the question, what media is good for our youth and what media is bad?



Wartella, E., & Knell, G. (2004). Raising a world-wise child and the power of media: The impact of television on children’s intercultural knowledge.Phi Delta Kappan, 86(3)

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24 responses to “Media: Good or Bad for our Youth? By: Brittany Fedus & Kara Rubino

  1. I feel that too much media is not good for children. I currently teach in a Pre-K class and I have a student who has a developmental disability and his parents do not want to deal with him so they stick him in front of the computer. They do not realize that the are not helping their son. This child is a bright kid so using media that enhances learning is great but it is mo0st definitely not going to enhance his social skills. Parents need to realize how to monitor their child and use media when appropriate. Children should still be forced to interact with other children and not just thrown allowed to sit in front of a TV or computer all day.

  2. Ideally if parents could monitor what their kids are watching I think there are some great educational shows that kids could really learn from. I know when I was younger I used to love shows like Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow and I hate to say it but Barney. And like you said they don’t just teach kids their alphabets they address bigger issues that are real in today’s society. Its the shows like Nip/Tuck and some others that are raunchy and violent that I would definately not want my kids watching. I took a psychology class last semester and we went over just how television shows can cause desensitization and give kids bad ideas, especially because they don’t think before they act or about consequences. I know nowadays sometimes the television is used as a babysitter and if a kid is sitting infront of a tv for hours at a time stuffing their face with junk food thats obviously unhealthy. But then again there are a lot of things they could be doing away from the tv that could be far worse. I know parents and guardians are busy but I really think its up to them to monitor what their kids are watching, especially with things such as parental controls that block what they shouldn’t be watching.

  3. The moral development of the child is primarily the responsibility of the parent. Therefore, it is up to the parent to limit their child’s exposure to television. I personally do not think that all exposure to adult content is bad. It can be used as an icebreaker or a stepping stone to open up the lines of communications between parents and their children on controversial issues.

  4. I think children’s exposure to media of all types is inevitable, the “good” and the “bad.” Let’s face it, technology is growing at a rapid pace. Children don’t even necessarily need to be in front of a T.V. to catch a program as now they can download shows right to their i-pods or computer. Where it is great for parents to be involved and know what their children are watching, they may not necessarily be able to monitor all of the media intake of their children. Hopefully, the parents will have instilled a value system that helps the child sort out the “good” and the “bad.” This can even get sticky though as many children learn to carry the same biases and stereotypes as their parents. In all though, I believe if teachers begin to utilize media with their lessons, students can learn to digest what they see and broaden their learning horizons.

  5. Like it or not children are watching more and more television, and what are the parents to do about it. Parents can encourage or even force a children to get fresh air, but in the long run TV wins out. I think as parents we spend time watching the programs are in to and decide for ourselves if they are appropriate for their age. We can’t rely on the TV to raise our children and babysit them for us. We have to take responsibilty for our parenting and they way we raise our children. While there are many beneficial programs out there, there are also some that our children shouldn’t be watching. Talk to them and discuss why or why not certain shows may be appropriate. If as parents we can discuss with our children what programs are appropriate then they may listen and not view those shows. Either way TV is here and we have to teach and talk to our children about what you feel is appropriate fo them.

  6. Media can be very powerful. Depending on what it is it can have a huge impact on kids, young adults, and even adults. I do believe it is important to monitor what kids watch to the best of our ability. Obviously it is easier said than done. But there are certain issues that are broadcasted into mainstream media, that for certain children, could be very traumatizing. Hearing about any type of abuse for the very first time and then having no one there to explain what it is exactly.
    But there is the media that dipicts or shows a concept or idea in a way words can’t describe. So not all media is bad, it can be good. We just need to be careful and know which ones are good.

  7. I have many thoughts about this. And I will just articulate one at the moment. There is a way in which what we watch can be very limited – blockbuster films, for instance. When I have just watched a really good film that makes me think – recently, that has been Gran Torino and The Reader (Kate Winslet won best actress last night for it) – it feels like I have eaten a good, nutritious, healthy meal after all that fast food.

  8. Media is all around us within today’s society, from TV to computers to phones we have access to the media all day long. Media can be both good and bad for the youth of today. When I was about 8 or 9 years old the only TV I watched consistently was Saturday and Sunday morning cartoons. During the week after school it would always be homework then straight outside till it got dark out. In today’s world with all the talk about how unsafe it is for kids to be outside without an adult, many parents would rather them be sitting in front of their TV watching whatever. Kids today are presented with so much technology with internet, TV, video games, phones that even the kids themselves don’t wanna play outside. I feel that kids today are exposed and allowed to involve themselves in too much media rather then actual human interaction. As far as the good versus the bad, that all should be monitored by parents/adults. It is very easy for kids to stumble onto inappropriate things whether it be internet or TV. Media can have many positive effects on kids if it is in the right dosage and the appropriate material.

  9. I believe that the media could be positive or negative depending on how it is used. It can be positive because kids can actually learn good things from beneficial programs, like in the History channel, or Sesame Street for the little ones. The little ones can learn their letters, numbers, and colors before they start school; they also learn to share, to be polite, etc. However, besides having time with him/her alone watching T.V. or using the computer, children need to interact with other children; they need to do activities outside the house (playing sports, going to a museum, for example). It is very important that children learn how to keep the social human relations with others. But, the most important thing, I believe, is that parents need to talk to their children, explain to them the good, the bad, and the ugly around us; children need to be ready to survive the real world.

  10. Media in a child’s life has become so prevalent, that we are forced to recognize it in the classroom. It is essential for teachers to find ways to use different types of technology in the classroom because of the incredible influence that this can have on what they learn. Children have so many learning styles which forces teachers to have many teaching styles, and this situation in no different. Although it is the responsibility of the parent to monitor what children watch, that is not always a feasible task. Thats why it is so important for teachers to talk about what children see and hear, and talk about how it makes them feel and explain what is appropriate and inappropriate to repeat.

  11. I think that this article makes a good point and children can in no way escape the media. We are going to just have to continue to develop new ways to adjust our curriculum to work with today’s society. Issues that appear on tv should be discussed with our students but I think we should also find a way to censor a couple of things for a few age groups. Yes, all children should become culturally aware and have world awareness such as political and global events. Also the sex content on tv should be controlled because I think too many young children know too much for their own good from my experiences…But if it just happens that they are exposed to it, it should be discussed and parents should be told to discuss it as well. We need to continue using technology in the curriculum and bad media can not stop us from doing so. Technology is a part of our life now and there should be blocks on some websites in school as they are doing right now. I think we should try to control inappropriate media for certain ages.

  12. I think its important for kids to be exposed to all different types of media. Its important to be exposed to culture. My neice loves Dora and Deigo. When I babysit her, she always watches them and I hear her repeating the spanish words they say. My neice also goes to a daycare where its made up of numerous cultures. She comes home and asks my brother and sister in law questions about the kids in her class all the time. They sit down and explain it to her. As far as media goes, it has changed since I was little. All the shows today are educational and diverse. My neice knows how to count to ten in spanish. I feel that the shows that express varying cultures are beneficial to a kid. The shows that may seem directed to one race or another may not be.

  13. The picture is quite lovely!

  14. ultimatewriter

    Media can be good for youth, especially when it’s educational, like Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer. But it can be bad, too. There is a lot of adult content out there, even in today’s shows for youth on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and the Disney channel. Among the teeny-bopper glam, these shows have “grown up” themes and situations. This in turn has youths acting beyond their years. Ultimately, media is a double-edge sword.

  15. iaminnewyorkcity

    Vast media nowadays is a significant mechanism not only for adult to connect to the world, but also for young children to discover something new. Currently, children can easily grasp a TV remoter and sit in front of the TV all day long watching a show in which it might not to be the appropriate context for their certain ages. I do think parents can discuss what TV programs allowing children watching along or with parents’ accompany is a good practice for children to learn “good” and “bad” instead banning or criticizing children.

  16. Television is a powerful and extremly influentional tool for kids in today society. I think that it is absolutly the responsibility of the parents to set guidlines as to what their children should be watching. I agree that there are so many wonderful programs that benefit children but even if this is the case too many hours of sitting in front the tv; educational or not is conterproductive for the developing mind of a child. Children need to be exposed to many forms of learning to develop all areas of their brain. Sitting in front of a TV will not serve this purpose.

  17. It is my opinion that the lack of parental supervision is the biggest contributor to children watching or accessing inappropriate information. Not having children myself, this article made me think about how effective channel and Website blocking really is. Would a parent need to block almost everything? Can you block entire channels? Can you block specific shows? If this is effective, all parents who cannot be with their children all the time should be taking advantage of such programs. But often, the problem is that they cannot afford the service.
    I do think that, for children, shows such as Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street are beneficial. They are education programs geared toward current issues. As long as the material is age-appropriate, I think it is positive.

  18. The promotion of children learning of other cultures, alternative lifestyles, sex, drugs, music, etc. leads to a more aware youth whom will be able to use their primary education to better communication worldwide. With this being said, in our media obsessed culture I am glad to hear that educators and parents are questioning how soon is too soon and how much is too much. Obviously, as the article mentioned, there is more to this issue than what is on the television and Internet. With the economy sinking, relationships are on the rocks and parents more than ever are struggling to make ends meat.

    P.s. I thought it interesting the quote relating to Sesame Street and wanted to add that SS also revised an old character “cookie monster” to be more aware of the obesity issue in children.

  19. There are many things in life that need to be done in moderation and I definitely think this is one of them. The media is a very powerful tool and needs to be carefully monitored. There is no escaping the impact of the media so parents must be extremely vigilant when it comes to limiting a child’s exposure to it. Although the amount of exposure is of grave concern, what they are exposed to is of utmost importance. I have two elementary school age children and I am constantly monitoring what they are exposed to on tv programs, u-tube videos, the internet, music videos, video games,etc. It is an exhausting task, but is the role of parents to know what the children are playing watching, and seeing. In fact, I have used themes in movies, problems in tv shows, and even lyrics in music to to discuss important issues and ideas with my kids. I have found this extremely helpful because they have a scenario to relate to in trying to explore feelings, identify issues, and solve problems. The use of media technology can be extremely helpful because it is something that young children can relate to. So, as long as the material is age-appropriate it can contribute to a positive learning experience.

  20. There is no doubt about it that media is a big part of young children’s lives today. I strongly believe that what a child watches on t.v. or on the internet should be monitored by an adult. I believe this because of what power media has over people.

    Shows like Sesame Street that teach our children about cultural differences is great. It reinforces what they are taught about culture in school. Shows like Dora the Explorer are also great and beneficial to youth today, becuase it is introducing the spanish language to children. With the rise of people coming to America speaking spanish, learning it now will only prepare children later on.

    However, not all media is good for children. Music videos/lyrics and even video games today can be harmful to children. This is why I believe that parents really need to pay attention to what their child is observing no matter how busy you might be. The violence and actions these videos/songs hold can be a very bad influence to the children who watch/play them. Childen may want to act out what they see, which is not appropriate.

    So in conclusion, I beleive media can be both good and also bad for our youth today, but with the proper parental control media that has bad influence can be avoided.

  21. The media that children are being exposed to in today’s world is without a doubt much more controversial than in past years. I know that my two younger cousins know much more information about topics that I had no idea about when I was their age. Ultimately, I believe that it is up to the parents to supervise and decide which programs are appropriate for their children to watch. Many networks now have “parental control”, which allows parents to select certain channels that can be blocked from their child’s viewing. Some of the changes can be looked at as positive in that kids today are learning about different cultures and types of family lifestyles. I believe that there should definitely be a limit placed on what children are exposed to through the media, however this will vary by each individual parent and what they believe is suitable for their child to watch.

  22. Modern media is filled with positive and negative material. Kids today are going to absorb a lot of information, like it or not. The best a parent can do, especially a single parent whose kids might be unsupervised longer, is try to censor what is being watched on TV and the computer.

    As far as how much TV younger kids watch, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. My neice watched probably about 2 hours a day from 6 months till now and she has learned a lot from it. Her parents would play shows like Sesame Street, Dora, and the Baby Einstein Videos. She knows spanish words, and was able to identify all the letters of the alphabet by the time she was 2 or 3.

    I think that today’s media can be a learning tool if it is used correctly.

  23. I agree with darwinsbeard when she says that she thinks that “today’s media can be a learning tool if it is used correctly”. There are some informative shows out there for children but it cannot be overdone. Everything should be in moderation, as the old saying goes. Two hours a day is a bit drastic and that is just the average. I know children who watch well over that amount in a day! I understand that our culture is changing (single parent families, parents thinking that their kids playing outside is dangerous…) but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be modifications. Our children are our future and they should be experiencing as much of this life as they can and not just in front of the TV. They need to get outside and get their hands a little dirty in order to learn something :)

  24. It’s hard to control what your children are watching on TV. It seems that the media has gotten a bit out of control these days. Channels like MTV has changed dramatically since I was a teenager. They went from playing music videos all the time to trashy reality shows. Did anyone hear about or see Katy Perry’s video on Sesame Street? Thousands of parents were so upset by her inappropriate low cut outfit that the video never aired (you can still find it on youtube). I agree with these parents. Even though some children may not have noticed, was it necessary to wear a dress like that? Unfortunately, the media is pushing their limit furthur and furthur and the fact that our children might watch the “bad media” is inevitable. We as parents have to be more aware of it and monitor them more.

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