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Jayce Cheldin
Mr. Rios
AP Language and Composition
9 March 2015

The Media's Effects on Children: Rhetorical Deceptions Corrupting the Youth

The media is a professional at the art of deceit. It is capable of distributing information,

starting controversy, and providing entertainment for people all around the world. Displayed in
the mediums of print, audio, television, and internet, a variety of rhetorical devices are used to
delude ideas perceived by the audiences. To do this, media producers must rhetorically express
uncertainty, dramatically leave stories unfinished, and exaggerated ideas, causing audiences to
become hoaxed. Of those who are exposed to this manipulation, children and adolescents are the
most affected. America's youth is highly impressionable and therefore, an easy target for various
forms of media. Children and adolescents have not had the ability to explore the world and
develop their own views, so they feed off of those given to them by magazines, radio channels,
television programs, and Facebook statuses. The media sources of today must utilize effective
rhetoric in order to captivate these children and adolescents, due to the fact that the youth is
naive and generally open minded when approached by new claims or ideas.
Whether it be at a beauty salon, grocery store, or gas station, images and headlines of
various magazines, tabloids, and newspapers never fail to jump out at the wandering eyes of
young audiences. Media, such as these magazines, tabloids, and newspapers, express doubts
about certain ideas or positions in order to represent a bias. This causes the audiences to feel

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some unease and strikes up a sensation of curiosity. For example, say an individual is out grocery
shopping. He or she is most likely not having an incredible time completing this chore and
allows their eyes to fall upon People Magazine. The cover holds brightly colored images of a
concerned celebrity with bold text beneath the photo describing that celebritys latest divorce,
makeover, or family drama. As the innocent young shoppers begin skimming the pages of the
magazine, they are drawn in by the intriguing articles and content. Whatever the scenario may
be, authors of rhetoric in print media must always utilize basic rhetorical devices. Expressing
doubt is another device important to the media because it is not always obvious, yet it leaves a
huge impact on audiences. In lieu of this device, sexual content in print largely impacts younger
audiences. Even when children and adolescents are not the target of the explicit content, they will
inevitably be exposed to it (Escobar). Producers and editors are not ones to hesitate or question
whether or not an image or idea is too graphic to advertise on the front page of their magazine or
newspaper. Producers and editors are not sensitive to how the youth may respond to their
creations. As long as images and stories are intriguing and eye catching, they will be published.
The lack of restrictions concerning what is given by the mediums front cover allows for
numerous children and adolescents to be exposed to materials which they are not yet mature
enough to handle. On average, seventy three percent of young people between the ages of eight
and eighteen are exposed to some form of print media daily (Generation M). This means that a
majority of America's children become victims of the media's inappropriate content and
manipulative use of expressions of bias doubts regularly, and a majority of Americas children
are being influenced by suggestive materials such as these. Magazines and tabloids are not the
only forms of media effecting the lives and behaviors of young people.

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Although audio media, such as the radio or music, lacks the presence of any visual aids, it
plays a heavy role in the development of children and adolescents. In the past, the radio was the
main source of audio media that people were able to experience. It was utilized to stay updated
on wars, economic affairs, and other political happenings. Since those days, technologies have
advanced greatly, opening up new ways in which people can experience audio media. As these
advancements have occurred, the radio has remained a key source of media output. According to
recent studies, forty four percent of youth in America spends over an hour a day with audio
media. An even higher number of eighty five percent of young people were found to listen to at
least a few minutes of radio, tapes, CDs, or MP3s a day (Generation M). These statistics clarify
that, while audio media is not the most popular medium depended upon, it still plays heavy roles
in the lives of Americas youth. Hinting towards feelings of doubt and unneeded exaggerations
attack the western worlds' children's minds regularly. Expressing doubt on the radio hooks
audiences and is strong enough to make them want to look further into the issue that is being
discussed. Doubt being expressed by artists and speakers can cause young people to feel unsure
about themselves and their actions. An instance where this applies can be found in the lyrics of
many songs. In the "Earth Song" performed by Michael Jackson, a number of environmental
issues are addressed. The presence of intense musical sounds mixed with the urgency and
passion heard in Jackson's voice forces listeners to acknowledge the issues that plague the
environment (Walker). Another example would be if a certain style of dress or behavior is
doubted in a popular song or by a radio station's host, young people will then also doubt that
attire or behavior. To keep the attention of these influential audiences, exaggeration is used to
keep audio media interesting. This medium lacks visuals to emphasize ideas, and therefore must
rely on hyperbole for emphasis and for effect. If a child or adolescent listens to audio media that

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does not contain hyperbole, he or she may lose interest and focus attention elsewhere. However,
if the audio media is saturated with exaggerations, audiences will be drawn in and focused on the
messages, ideas, or stories being told (Sert). Still, audio media does not impact young people
nearly as much as media does via television.
The television is a more recent form of media that can spread information quicker than
many other sources and can be easily accessed by children and adolescents. Televisions offer
entertainment, facts, and even some level of education, making it a medium that appeals to a
variety of different individuals. Due to the fact that the television is so popular and advanced,
new ways of capturing audiences must be found or else audiences will lose interest. In an
academic journal, researcher Joshua Reeves discusses digital rhetoric, explaining that, "The
social and textual transformations brought by digital media have imposed new challenges upon
scholars of rhetoric, who are striving to apply their traditional concepts to technological
inventions that are rapidly changing the ways we read, shop, and socialize." Reeves can
understand that, as technology advances, media producers need to modernize their techniques for
captivating audiences. Children and adolescents will never be satisfied with media unless it is
new and can pull them in with new tactics that they have never experienced. Reeves' findings
conclude that the primary interests of television media consist of creating a steady flow of
material that will hold on to the attention of audiences for hours. Leaving audiences hanging,
expressing bias doubts on ideas, and using exaggerations all contribute to achieving this goal.
Producers try to leave audiences hanging because it efficiently captivates them by abruptly
stopping in the middle of an unfinished statement. This is especially effective among the younger
audiences. Young people tend to be much more curious, whereas older and more matured people
simply accept things as they are. Often times a television show, commercial, or movie will end

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without concluding the plot or resolving the issues. This will not leave as much of a lasting effect
on an adult in most cases; however, a child will take much more of an interest in such an ending.
Unresolved issues force them to think about the program and wait in anticipation for an ending to
be created and released. It makes audiences wonder what the outcome could be based on what
they know. Individuals may have a hard time accepting that issues are unresolved, so they make
up solutions and conclude the plot in their own minds. Working with these rhetorical devices,
television producers strive to intensify events and scenarios. While the television is an extremely
popular media form, the most relevant medium with today's youth is the internet and social
With the advanced technology available today, children and adolescents spend a great
amount of time on the internet and social media. Internet is accessible to them at almost any time
of the day and allows them to engage in numerous activities. Young people are able to
communicate, research, and access social media all by using the internet. After constructing and
carrying out a research experiment on children and adolescents, the J. Indian Association
reported that, "Children today grow up in a world saturated with media use. A national survey in
the United States found that children ages eight to eighteen years old in 2012 had an average
media usage time of seven hours and thirty eight minutes every day." Like the in television
media, leaving audiences hanging, expressing bias doubts, and the exaggeration of scenarios all
work as effective rhetorical devices in internet media. Abruptly bringing a story to an end
deepens feelings that there is a pressing matter because a speaker or text is ended without
explanation, indicating that the situation is so tremendous that the speaker cannot completely
recount it. The presence of doubt from authors on the internet is often utilized to bring about
controversy. Children and adolescents are uncontrollably intrigued by drama. The expression of

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uncertainty allows them to experience that sensation of drama in a controlled and manipulated
way. Lastly, hyperbole amplifies this manipulated scenario to make it seem even more important
than it actually is. Research has proven that one third of a young person's day is spent around
some form of internet media (J. Indian). The internet and social media work endlessly to
manipulate the minds of young people today. Reaching out to them, internet media pushes their
developing minds toward supporting certain ideas and claims.
Media in the forms of print, audio, television and the internet all fill the minds of children
and adolescents with inappropriate ideas on crude or significant topics. These media forms are
professionally equipped to captivate audiences, and do so flawlessly by executing proper use of
influential rhetorical devices. Constantly children and adolescents are exposed to the uncensored
materials of video games, television programs, explicit music, and gossip tabloids. Despite tiring
attempts from parents and guardians, their exposure to such media can only be monitored to an
extent. Even under supervision, the youth becomes victims to the media through sneaky usage of
rhetorical devices and their own nave curiosity. In leaving audiences hanging, expressing bias
uncertainties, and exaggerating even the least important of situations, unwanted thoughts are
planted into young people's minds. These capabilities prove that the media is fully able of
manipulation and forcing audiences into believing certain claims or projected outlooks. Having
this ability allows them to attract audiences that lack the life experience needed to form practical,
realistic views, and that will grow and develop new ideas based on what is fed to them through
the media.

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Works Cited

Escobar-Chaves, Soledad Liliana, and Craig A. Anderson. "Media and Risky Behaviors." Future
of Children 18.1 (2008): 147-180. Print.

"Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year-Olds." Editorial. The Henry J. Kaiser Family
Foundation March 2005. Print.

J. Indian Association. "Harmful Effects of Media on Children and Adolescents." Mental Health
8.2 (2012): 38-45. Print.

Reeves, Joshua. "Temptation and Its Discontents: Digital Rhetoric, Flow, and the Possible."
Rhetorical Review 32.3 (2013): 314-330. Print.

Sert, Olcay. "An Interactive Analysis of Hyperboles in a British Tv Series: Implications for EFL
Classes." ARECLS 5 (2008): 1-28. 2008. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.

Walker, L. C. "101." The American Mathematical Monthly 8.6/7 (1901): 150-52. SquareSpace.
Andy Healy, 2013. Web. 4 Mar. 2015.
Journal Article

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