Media often projects the youth to be self-centred, carefree and irresponsible. They do not listen to their parents and are generally very rebellious. They are the rule-breakers and menaces to society. However, this could not be further from the truth.
This stereotypical re[resentation of the youth affects not only how they’re perceived by others but also their own perceptions of themselves. But we must ask, how realistic is the media portrayal of the youth? Does the media only focus on certain aspects and ignore others? Does the representation of young people in films, serials and ads give the audiences a 360-degree view?
Research suggests that the youth are drinking a lot less than older generations. A report from Berenberg Research shows that Gen Z, the generation after millennials, is drinking 20 percent less per capita compared to millennials.
Party Animal vs Health Conscious
It is common to see media representing teenagers and millennials as people who are only concerned with drinking and making merry. The youth is shown to be party-obsessed, addicted to alcohol and other intoxicating substances in movies. While addiction is a serious issue, these movies treat teenagers in a way that is just not realistic. In reality, a lot of young people are shunning alcohol. Being drunk is not considered as “cool” as it used to be. Research suggests that the youth are drinking a lot less than older generations. A report from Berenberg Research shows that Gen Z, the generation after millennials, is drinking 20 percent less per capita compared to millennials.
Another misplaced notion about youth that has been spun by the media is that they are careless about their health. In movies, sitcoms and ads they are often shown eating junk food, drinking cola, etc. However, millennials are actually very conscious of their health. Studies show that millennials care more about healthy food than previous generations. Most millennials consider healthy eating to be of crucial importance and they make it a point to exclude from their diet foods and beverages believed to be harmful. Women, especially ones suffering from lifestyle disorders like PCOS, are doubly careful about their diet and lifestyle.
Selfish vs Altruistic
The media portrayal of the youth often labels them as selfish people who only care about themselves or their close friends. They do not listen to their parents and are generally very rebellious. The media shows them as rule-breakers and menaces to society. However, this could not be further from the truth.
Media barely shows the youth studying or working. The teenagers on screen are more worried about trivial drama and gossip. However, in today’s competitive world, the youth is constantly trying to juggle many things at once.
The youth is historically engaged with changing the world. We can see the proof in likes of Greta Thunberg, a teenager who is completely dominating the conversation about climate change. Media portrayal of the youth fails to capture that they are not only committed to bettering themselves but also interested in the betterment of society. Several news outlets focus on how young people turned up on the streets in large numbers to protest climate change this year. Moreover, many blogs and coverages of incidents show how young people are standing up to racial discrimination, sexism, homophobia and often speak out about these things.
Careless vs Concerned
Media barely shows the youth studying or working. The teenagers on screen are more worried about trivial drama and gossip. However, in today’s competitive world, the youth is constantly trying to juggle many things at once. The academic life of today’s young people is cut-throat. Moreover, not only are teenagers focussing on their studies but also trying to land internships and other jobs to build their resume. They establish their career goals from a young age and work towards them.
All of this contributes to a large amount of stress, causing mental health problems. Depression is on the rise among millennials. Other mental health problems like anxiety are also plaguing the youth’s lives. Even those not suffering from clinical mental health disorders go through a lot of tension, worry and stress. Millennials that have a job fear losing it as well, studies show.
By showing young people to be frivolous and carefree largely, the media keeps us the society from taking their mental health issues seriously. It is not cool to be branded as a carefree generation, while we are working so hard, and don’t get our due, because our stereotypical image keeps us from being taken seriously. Which is why, it is time that the media began doing justice to the portrayal of young people. Our reality is far from going to fancy colleges and frolicking through our youth.
Image Credit: India.com
Prapti is an intern at SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.