Teens: Ages 14-17
During this stage of life, children continue to make changes toward becoming adults, both physically and emotionally. Some key aspects of teen development are:
- Abstract Thinking - Teens are better able to understand situations from different points of view. They know that not everything is a right or wrong answer, and that people have different motivations behind the choices they make.
- Identity - Teens test out different parts of their identities to figure out who they are and who they want to be. They may try out styles of dressing, types of music, and different groups of friends to find their place.
- Risky Behaviors - Finding an identity includes testing limits. Teens may try out risky behaviors such as experiment with smoking, drinking, drugs or sexual behavior.
So how does media fit into these needs of teenagers?
Television and Movies
While television is still a part of life during the teen years, many teens either turn their interests to music and the internet or are so busy with extracurricular activities that they do not have time to watch as much TV. When they do watch TV, they are likely to watch either alone or with friends, but rarely with their parents. Although parents will have less control over what kinds of things their kids see in the media at this age, they can still establish time limits.
- See tips for using television safely
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that teens spend an average of 2 and a half hours each day listening to music. Between Mp3 players, stereos in their rooms and cars, and the good old radio, teens surround themselves with music at this stage of life. While parents may not understand the lyrics or enjoy the beat, they can learn a lot about their teens' moods and feelings by paying attention to the music their teens enjoy.
- Learn more about the risks and benefits of music
Teens fully understand that the purpose of ads is to get people to buy things. They are often wise to the advertising industry and do not want to be "tricked" by them. They respond well to media literacy because they feel empowered by knowing the "behind-the-scenes" aspects of advertising.
© 2004-2008 Center on Media and Child Health, Children's Hospital Boston.
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