The Positive Influence: A Look At Television Programs That Help Our Youth Essay, Research Paper
One Friday afternoon I was sitting in the crowded lobby of my doctor’s office, waiting to be
called in to be seen. Sneezes, coughs, and children’s conversations could be heard throughout the
office. The young girl sitting next to me, who I assumed was about 15 years old, was very
impatient as to waiting to be called in by a nurse. She kindly asked me what time it was and that’s
when our conversation sparked. I learned that her name was Ashley and that she was 17 years
old. When Ashley was only 4 years old her father walked out of her and her mother’s life. Ever
since then things have been unstable in her life. Later when she was 10 years old her mother
re-married the man who is now her “mean” step father. She claims that most of the problems
arose when her step father’s job required the family to relocate from Sacramento, California to the
Rio Grande Valley. She was required to move schools and make new friends.
Unfortunately these new friends were not at all the best influence on her and peer pressure
pressed forward. In Junior High she and her friends were known as the trouble makers, the group
of boys and girls who just went to school to make fun of the other students. She claims that these
three years were the hardest for her. Her younger half-brother was always sick and required a lot
of attention from her mother therefore her mother wasn’t always available to her when she needed
advice. At the age of 13 began to be involved in drugs, she said that her first incident with
cocaine nearly sent her to the grave. Ashley didn’t learn by that incident, she kept on using drugs
and over time built up to the stronger ones. It wasn’t long after the cocaine incident that she
became involved with boys. It wasn’t until the last time she was hospitalized for drug abuse that
she realized she should stop. Ashley said that without the help of positive television and good
friends she wouldn’t have been able to get out of her situation.
Ashley’s experience is similar to thousands in our country, where a troubled teen is helped
by exemplary television programming. Television programs aimed at young people help this
country’s youth deal with the problems of growing up.
Growing up in today’s fast moving society can be tough for teenagers who seem to
encounter problems frequently than the rest. At times a teenager feels isolated when confronted
with the problems of life. Many times when isolation occurs the teenager will feel as and an
outcast and become unwilling to seek help. Our youth’s problems originate in various places and
situations. Just like all people are different their problems are different.
Many of our country’s problems originate in the home within the family. At times a
teenager might think that everything is going just great, but then out of nowhere tragedy occurs.
Divorce. Everyday the divorce rate is climbing up the statistics chart faster and faster. Divorce
alleviates many marital problems but can also intensify a teenagers problems. Many young ones
suffer the traumatic consequences of their parents divorce.
These consequences can cause life jeopardizing situations in which a teenager will not
know how to respond. I’ve seen my cousin, Sara’s life go in opposite directions after her
parent’s bitter divorce. After the divorce her mother, who had legal custody began to pursue
dating as a regular routine and gave less and less attention to her children. Sara began to feel
alone and after a while joined in a local gang to make her feel accepted. Ever since the divorce
Sara has not progressed.
Other problems can occur within a household such as having to deal with alcohol abuse
Alcoholism is not defined as drinking moderately, but it is a serious disorder where a person uses
alcohol to hide their problems. Alcoholism only makes it harder on the family. At times the
family will have to cope with physical abuse, mental and sexual abuse. I have heard of many cases
where a drunken father will come home from a bar and physically beat his wife and children.
Children who witness this kind of abuse will grow up to think that abuse is normal and that it can
be tolerated. Therefore when they grow up they will more than likely have abusive partners or be
Since alcoholism affects not only the abuser but also his children, the pressures of an
alcoholic parent and school could cause serious obstacles. Many times I have seen parents
pressuring their children to be, “perfect”. These parents demand a full list of activities which their
child must attend and not to mention to get the highest rank of all their class. At times these
students can not take anymore pressuring and will rebel. I knew a boy in high school who’s
mother forced him to be in sports, be a straight A student, and to participate in a various amount
of clubs and organizations. All this pressure led for him to rebel against his mother and rebel
against his teachers.
The pressures of good grades, other students and teachers appears unbearable to the
teen-ager and consequently he give’s in to misleading students. Peer-pressure, one of the hardest
obstacles to overcome occurs when a student is tempted and does what he doesn’t want to do.
But because teen-ager’s know what tactics to use when persuading someone to give in, the
helpless youth is easily reeled in like fish reeled in with live bait.
Along with peer-pressure I think of gangs and the influence they have among the other
students. Gangs have a great amount of power with them. They know just the right the
strategies to get teenagers to do what they say. Whether if it is to leave someone’s girlfriend
alone or if it to convince someone to join their gang. Gangs and the peer pressure brought on by
gangs is a huge problem that our society’s teenagers face. The rate of gang membership increases
by hundreds every week. Teenagers are being brainwashed and pressured into joining gangs.
New members will more than likely have to be brutally beat to be apart of a gang. A process
called initiation, where the new member will suffer punches and kicks. In certain gangs entrance
membership depends on the number of felonies committed within a certain time. New members
might have to steal or even commit murder to have entry into a gang.
What actually comes with being in a gang is the tough stuff. Peer-pressure is at it’s high
when everyone in the group is doing it. Peer-pressure is when peers obligate another do as them.
Teenagers will be introduced to drugs in their these gangs. Temptation will then occur and this is
the teenager gets week and gives in. Peer-pressure not only occurs in gangs but is a problem
that can occur in any environment.
Luckily our society has realized that in order to improve our youth we must have sources
where they can turn to in a case of grief. What a better way than through television. Television
programs aimed at young people help this country’s youth deal with the problems of growing up.
Today’s television programs entertain the youth in a positive way. Almost fifty million
televisions are turned on each evening. Sixty-four percent out of those fifty million are individuals
between the ages of 12-18. Instead of our teen-agers being out on the streets fighting the street
life, the majority are staying in and receiving the support they need to conquer there problems.
Television programs enrich personal goals and help them develop moral values. Such things are
essential for success.
Before the television show Oprah, sorrowful circumstances such as divorce or alcoholism
were seldom discussed in public, much less on national television. If someone fell into one these
situations it was kept a secret from the community and at times from the parents. Afraid of being
an embarrassment to their family the youth frequently would keep it to them selves and not let any
one know of their problems. Secretism only led to ignorance and forced the victims to have to
cope with their issues all alone.
As a young teenager I was a strong admirer of the television series, “The Baby-Sitter’s
Club”. The characters faced the same problems most children and teenagers face. These
individuals confronted problems such as divorce and handled them graciously. They were the
positive examples my generation needed.
I clearly remember an episode where one of the character’s was facing my friend Ashley’s
problems. The character and her mother moved across the country after her parents divorce.
Soon she found herself isolated. Isolated from her schoolmates and her mother also. The
character got to the point where drugs became an option to relieve her from her worries. But
fortunately the Baby-Sitter’s Club member’s pulled her out of her problems and lead her towards
success. Perhaps Ashley could’ve benefited from a this episode before she got involved with
As mentioned before, Oprah, has added guidance and comfort to many teen-agers seeking
help. She has aired a significant amount of shows dedicated just for teen-agers. During these
shows she interviews an individual who might have been a victim of gang violence or might have
been a high school drop-out. Her questions include, “What can the viewers at home do if they
ever find themselves in the same type of situation as you were?”.
Another television show that deals with real life situations is, M-TV’s The Real World.
This series unites six strangers from different parts of the nation, who perhaps come from
different cultures, who are of different religions, and who differentiate in the amount of problems
they’ve faced. The object of being chosen is to survive in the environment given, living with five
strangers. This program teaches today’s youth that where ever you go and what ever you do, you
will not always get along with the people you work with. In the show conflicts are not always
handled with care, the characters have to cope with living with someone they just can’t get along
with. I remember in one episode a young male who was kicked out of the house because of his
radical ideas. This gives our youth a taste of the real world, how it will be in working
environment, or living with a roommate.
Another strong point is that many positive role models are found through out
television. Either highly successful sports figures, singers, actors, and newscasters are fine
examples. Teen-agers need someone to look up to, someone who hold a common characteristic.
Many of televisions role models cast in many commercials. A perfect example of this is the
famous, “Drink Milk” campaign. Where the company hires many teen-idols to advertise their
product, the teen-ager purchases it, and the company receives sky-rocketing profits. Every one is
happy. The company receives the feed back they crave, the teen uses the same product just as
their roll model does and the celebrity receives the fame and a check in the mail.
I could list hundreds of wrong things a youngsters could be doing, but I’m sure you’ll
agree with me that the television industry has definitely grasped the attention of the young minds
and at the same time helped our community to succeed. Now Ashley is 20 years old attending a
local community college. She is living proof that television programming does help today’s youth
deal with the problems encountered while growing up. Personally I give the television industry
two thumbs up for the fabulous work they have achieved. Our television programming is
jam-packed with programs targeted on our youth’s problems. It helps them understand what they
are going through and lets them know that many teen-agers all over the country are facing the