Children and the media
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A taste for music
The explosion of music as a cultural focal point
for young people - through audio and videotapes, CDs, live events
and especially now through the Internet, radio and television -
has reinforced the gap between the generations. Adults who worry
about sexist and violent imagery and lyrics in the variety of musical
genres are seen as simply out of touch.
By the early 1990s the music television channel MTV, founded in
the United States in 1981, had access to over 20 million households
in Central and Latin America (7.5 million in Brazil alone), 1.8
million in Asia and 36 million in Europe. It now has 16 national
or regional branches, each delivering a wide variety of programming
to increasingly varied young audiences.
Typically, music TV channels for the young feature a fast-moving
diet of music videos interspersed with chat, promotional jingles
and advertisements. They are essentially lifestyle channels and
it is their consumerism that critics find so problematic. They proffer
the unobtainable to many who are in no position to afford the goods
on display, although, to receive the channels, young people must
have access to satellite or cable.
However, those who can switch on to MTV are united through a website
that gives opportunities for debate for young people everywhere,
under banners like 'Fight for your rights'. The 'Hot global highlights'
message reads: "Transcend frontiers by checking out this week's
highlights. Find out what makes other young people tick around the
planet, and get the scoop on a wide variety of international artists,
events and more."
The communication giants have the potential to reach and deliver
messages exclusively to young audiences at previously undreamed
of levels. They are producing a shared experience. However commercialized
the products, the appeal to young people derives from the fact that
the experience is theirs.
Industry forecasters believe that annual retail sales for leisure
software in the United States will top US$8 billion by 2005, a figure
likely to be matched by sales in Europe, with the Japanese sales
figures not far behind.
The spread of the MTV and games culture, bewildering though it may
be to parents, represents a new cultural phenomenon that borrows
and blends styles, themes and values. It is risky to predict the
consequences for future generations and media products, but if young
people are given opportunities to contribute rather than just consume,
they could have a defining influence on the construction of the
global village that communication technology is making possible.
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