So much of the media we consume in our youth shapes us into the people we are today. Think of that one piece of media. It could be the one show you used to watch every weekend when staying at your grandma’s house. It shapes our dreams, our passions, our fears and even drives us to the careers in which we hope to find ourselves. What we consume as very young children does not tend to stick with us, but we all find media as we grow up that we attach ourselves to.

Media exposure as a child affected every child differently, and you can easily pick out the differences in small groups or even amongst your siblings. Older children may have had a lot more restrictions (i.e.,TV shows, movies, and social media access). And because of these, they were able to be a child for longer compared to their siblings. Children who have older siblings tend to show more mature tendencies and can appear to “grow up quicker” than other children their age. 

While they could not watch YouTube and have an Instagram account until a certain age, once they were allowed, they were more prepared. The media exposure of our generation has definitely led to an increased maturation at younger ages, but at a level where our mental and physical states are not prepared to handle. 

Simply looking back at previous generations, the rate of consumption and processing of information that we experience 24/7, the effects of such are only beginning. As soon to be or current adults, we are already facing spiked issues such as depression, anxiety, risky behaviors and delays of certain learning and social skills, just to name a few. Are we “more mature,” or are we overexposed and at risk for unprecedented mental, physical and emotional consequences?

The way people become people and not feral people is through socialization, which is the process of internalizing the norms and expectations of society, the learning of how to be a person. There are various ways this is done, typically initially through the family (children imitate and learn roles from their parents).

However, in the 21st century, with the advancement of technology, media has an ever- growing role in socializing individuals, especially children. To begin with, media have proven to have long-term effects on individuals, especially with increased exposure. Television shows, movies, popular music, magazines, web sites and news  influence our political views, our beliefs, our views on women, our views on people of color, our views on LGBT people.

Beyond other people, media can also affect how individuals see how they themselves fit into society. An example alluded to earlier and still pertinent in society today is how media impacts young children’s (often girls’) self-confidence because of the singularity of body standards portrayed in media.