There are various options in the case, firstly, children`s awareness of the negative effects of the media should be increased by educating them on the fabricated images portrayed in the media, and encouraging them to question whatever they view. Children should be encouraged to define their identity based on their unique characters and abilities rather than comparing themselves to the beauty ideal in the media. Secondly, influential individuals in the lives of children including parents, healthcare providers, teachers, and other professionals should play a leading role in helping children to overcome the temptation to style their bodies to match the rigid standards portrayed in the media. Children should be informed of the health risks that they expose themselves to by following the media standards. Finally, media education programs through media literacy and media activism can help in reducing the long-term effects of media exposure on children. Parents should receive training on media literacy not only to help them critically evaluate media messages but also to make them strong advocates in promoting healthy behaviors among their children. In addition, health communication campaigns also improve the general population`s awareness of the significance of maintaining a healthy body.
The right thing to do is for youths and adolescents to accept and love their bodies just the way they are. They should not sacrifice their health to suit the media`s concept of perfection. This is because of numerous reasons. Firstly, what is seen, heard, and read in the media is not only misleading but also manipulative and driven by the desire to maximize profits. Secondly, having a healthy image is more beneficial compared to being muscular or skinny. Finally, research studies have indicated that trying to match the ideal image as portrayed in the media has various negative effects on children and adolescents including low self-esteem, dissatisfaction with your body, use of steroids, and eating disorder (Morris & Katzman, 2003).
To resolve this dilemma, children and adolescents should be helped to attain and sustain a healthy body image rather than the ideal body image. This is because children, adolescents, and their parents require truthful information relating to healthy eating and the negative effects that the media has on body image and society. From childhood, children and adolescents should be informed that human bodies appear in different shapes and sizes. Children and adolescents should be informed that each one of us is different and that different body sizes and shapes are normal. Society and particularly the children and adolescents should understand the emotional and physical changes they go through in the course of their development. Society has a role in promoting a healthy body image by developing skills to help children and adolescents thoroughly evaluate all messages they hear, read, and see that is connected to eating, body image, and appearance.
In conclusion, the media is a significant threat to the health of children because it masks risky and unreasonable messages in attractive packages. The images shown in the media have negative effects on millions of children and adolescents. There is a need for education on the harmful effects of the media. Through education, the media industry can finally be transformed to promote a healthy eating culture where children and adolescents will no longer starve themselves and instead learn to accept and love themselves for who they are.
Morris, A. M. & Katzman, D. K. (2003). The impact of the media on eating disorders in children and adolescents. Paediatrics & Child Health, 8 (5), 287.