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Public Media: Adolescence OR Young Adulthood

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representations of youth in media
discourses
Developmental Psychology week 5
Object 1
Object 2
Object 3

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Assignment
Public Media: Adolescence OR Young Adulthood
Find an article in the public media (e.g., newspaper, magazine, radio, TV, web page) that relates in some
way to the developmental stages we are learning about in Weeks 4 and 5 (Adolescence or Young
Adulthood). Review the information and find the supporting evidence that was the basis for the article.
Read the information in the textbook that signifies different stages of development (i.e., physical,
cognitive, emotional, personality, etc.). Students may want to visit the DeVry Library and the sites
provided in the Webliography tab for easy access to credible information. Your grade will be based on the
following.
Relevance to developmental psychology
Summary: Was the information sufficient for the audience to understand what was in the public media,
whether or not you found it credible, and why or why not?
Evaluation of the sources: Criteria used to complete the evaluation
Requirements
Research
1. Information on the media and developmental stages in adolescence or young adulthood
2. Textbook information on stages of development
Written paper is designed as typical college writing standards for an essay paper
1. Cover page
2. Minimum two to three pages (does not include cover or reference page)
3. 12-point font
4. Double-spaced
5. 1-in. margins on top, bottom, and sides
6. In-text citations (APA guidelines)
7. Reference page (APA guidelines)
The media appears as one of the most influential sources, which shapes our personal opinion. However,
when it comes to stories about young people, it often shows biased and overrepresented images. This
essay will consider different representations of youth in media discourses and the impact that these
images have on the lived experiences of young people.
Since the 1960s, when media were invoking young people as ‘folk devils’ creating a ‘moral panic’, we
continue to be exposed to more and more negative images of youth. The analysis conducted by Wayne
et al. showed that 90% of 286 analysed television stories about youth were related to violent crimes and
terrorism (2008:78). Adolescents are usually depicted as unfinished and incompletely socialized products
in the period of transitions (Vadeboncoeur, 2005:1). Nevertheless, the media’s ‘objectified’ vision of
dangerous and troublesome ‘risk seekers’ expresses the hegemonic position of adults and their need of
control and guidance (Vadeboncoeur, 2005:5). According to Vadeboncoeur, humans socially construct
meanings and interpretations. Thereafter teenagers’ ‘difficult stage’ is merely theatrically and
ideologically produced (2005:6). Regimented school day, curfews or restricted but prescribed right to
learn make adolescents feel like they have few choices and many limitations. Moreover, numerous
stereotypes, used to categorize an entire generation, become a simple excuse for adults to increase
surveillance (Wyn, 2005:23). Thus, young people are considered as a double danger: firstly for

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themselves, if they do not achieve adulthood period properly, secondly for the society, if they do not
transfer social conventions to next generations (Wyn, 2005:25).
However, beside this picture of youth as a menace to the stability of society, young people also appear
as a symbol of hope for the future of humanity. Indeed, films often represent women as a hope for a new
social order (Wyn, 2005:29), while television plays on the myth of “sport star” trying to motivate and
persuade adolescents that with a commitment everybody can become a star (Vadeboncoeur, 2005:14).
The analysis of Wayne et al. shows that the third of television stories discuss young people’s
achievements and young celebrities, particularly footballers (2008:79).
Nevertheless the influence of all these representations on young people’s lives is indisputable. It could
be explained through the Gerbner’s cultivation theory, which states that:
“The more time people spend "living" in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social
reality portrayed on television."
We observe thus a huge interaction between the medium and its public, where media reflects the values
and ideals of society, but also have an impact on the views and attitudes of individuals. Nevertheless,
most of time, young people do not recognize themselves in what they see in the media. Rather than
thinking about failing transitions to adulthood, they try to adapt themselves to social change and seize
the opportunities that are obviously different from those offered to previous generations. The definition of
what people think about adolescence is a result of social and cultural understanding. However, it seems
that the discourses which shape this definition concern much more adult stereotypes of young people
based on the desires, imagination and interests of the adult world, than on young people’s own
perceptions and experiences (Wyn, 2005:31).
What seems clear, however, is that young people are most likely to be resentful as each single day
everything reminds them, that they are dangerous and ‘bad’. Instead of participating to their integration
into adult world, media representations of youth seems to build a huge gap between these two groups,
that actually, have more things in common than dissimilarities…
References:
Ken S. Heller (2012) ‘ It’s a Mean World! Or Is It?’,
http://mediapsychology101.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/its-a-mean-world-or-is-it/, assessed. Accessed on
August 15, 2013.
Wayne, M et al (2008) ‘Television news and the symbolic criminalisation of young people’ Journalism
studies, 75-90.
Wyn, J. (2005) ‘Youth in the media: Adult stereotypes of young people’ in Talking Adolescence.
Vadeboncoeur, J. A. (2005) Naturalised, restricted, repackaged, and sold: Reifying the fictions of
"adolescent" and "adolescence".

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