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Research shows that the media has real effects on people. It's a powerful force with both good and bad effects. And, we consume a lot of it! Let's take a look under the microscope.

By the time teenagers graduate from high school, they will have spent more time watching TV (15,000 hours) than they did in school (12,000 hours).

  • A recent national survey found that young people ages 8 to 18 spend about 6 1/2 hours a day reading, watching, or listening to media. But, by using two media at once (like surfing the Net and watching TV), kids actually pack in more than 8 1/2 hours of exposure to media messages each day. That's good and bad:
    • The more time young people spent watching TV news and reading newspapers, the higher they scored on a test of civic knowledge (like why voting matters, how our laws are made).
    • 9 out 10 people who watch TV regularly say they have learned something from television about diseases or how to prevent them.
    • Over 1,000 studies confirm that media violence can lead to aggressive behavior in children. By age 18, the average American child will have viewed about 200,000 acts of violence on television alone.
    • A study of magazines for teenage girls found that most articles were on looks, dating, and clothes. Fewer were on things like self-confidence, family, career, school, and being independent. Very few tackled health issues like smoking or drugs.

In the end, it's your job to "get it" about how the media shows you the world—to appreciate the good, and be savvy about the bad.