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Media re-enforces teen stereotypes

Mikayla Kudron, Reporter

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 Think back to when you were in middle school, or maybe even younger. What did you imagine highschool being like? Was it comparative to Mean Girls, with a lunchroom organized by social status? Maybe it was similar to the TV show Glee where a diverse group of underdogs always rise to the top in spite of bullies? Even if as a young kid your view of high school was similar to that of High School Musical, it’s clear that media affects the way people perceive high school. Whether it regards high school or not, media forces teens to think they need to conform to the standards in media. They feel they need to have their first relationship by a certain age, dress a certain way, and have a very specific friend group, just to name a few. Whether it be the classes, teachers, students, or relationships, nothing is as it seems, and that can have many negative effects.

To begin with, most kids have a false perception of what high school is like as a whole. On TV they see only the extremes- completely segregated lunch rooms, either disgusting or amazing school lunches, mean teachers, and more, when the reality is much less drastic . As high schoolers know, most teachers are not mean, the lunchroom is not so organized by gender or social standing, and the school lunches are pretty average. These aspects are portrayed this way on TV for the dramatic affect. It’s what keeps people watching, and that is completely understandable. While I don’t expect these things to change,  it is important that people know the reality of high school. This causes kids to be more nervous than they need to be entering high school.

More damaging is the way relationships are portrayed in television. Pretty much every character who is in high school has had a relationship, and if not, they are the token character deemed “undateable”. The undateable character usually dresses differently, is ‘a nerd’, or is obsessed with one of the other characters. This isn’t healthy. It leads people to believe that they have to have a relationship by a certain point in their high school career or else they never will. Also seldom portrayed on TV is what dating is actually like.. Being in high school, I have noticed that many people my age have had many, many relationships. They usually don’t last long, or the people involved will stay together long after they don’t have feelings for eachother. Also very common is once they break up with someone, they practically have another person lined up. While this is probably average and expected among teens as we are still kids, TV makes relationships look easy and this may influence real relationships. TV couples are usually not a main focus of the show; they are a subplot, and so the relationship is easy. The couple very rarely fights, and when they do it is often either petty, humorous, or both. Kids should understand the work that actually goes into a relationship before having one. While some shows have eradicated this stereotype, most have not.  

The characters in TV shows and movies are also very seldom comparable to people we know in real life. When you think of Regina George from Mean Girls, does anyone you actually know come to mind? Probably not. Again, these things are for a reason- it’s what we want to see. Mean Girls would be a far less interesting movie if the characters were more like the popular girls in real life. There is nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when people don’t realize how unrealistic these portrayals are. The most extreme example of this are shows like Teen Mom or Sixteen and Pregnant that glorify teen pregnancy by glossing over important issues such as the financial aspects.

The bottom line is TV is fiction. Even reality shows, contrary to the name, are fabricated. It’s a form of entertainment, and no one wants to watch something as mundane as what goes on in real life, so we turn to television. While the vast majority of people enjoy their fair share of television time, the cons may far outweigh the pros, especially pertaining to impressionable kids.

The official student news site of West Springfield High School
Media re-enforces teen stereotypes