By: Alyssa Busack
A stereotype is defined as a generalized belief about an individual or a group of people. This can apply to race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, and many other categories. In today’s society the media plays a huge role in everyone’s lives. It is how we keep up with trends, find out about everyday events, receive news, and even stay up to date with people. Media matters when it comes to stereotyping because it makes it so much easier to do this. When adults and children see content such as programs, movies, magazines, the internet, or even different media platforms, they can’t help but let their prejudices in and stereotype what and who they see. Media are where individuals learn how to stereotype, too.
According to Understanding Prejudice 2002, “Studies indicate that these advertisements profoundly influence how people perceive and relate to one another.” Throughout the study, when men watched a sexist commercial, they later judged female job applicants. The men paid more attention to their physical appearance and believed them to be less competent than the men who applied. Although stereotypes do not last for a long amount of time, they still happen none the less, and continue to occur even after the individual knows he or she is doing it. The same stereotype an individual made about someone can even be reactivated by the littlest of things. Therefore, stereotypes can cause a great harm on our society due to the effects of media that we visually see causing our prejudices to surface.
Although it is a lot easier for adults to stereotype, that doesn’t mean children can’t or don’t do it, too. The world we live in today is completely different than 10 years ago or even five years ago. Most children are playing with technology by the time they are a year old. Often times parents do not enable them, allowing children to see mostly everything adults view. This can be extremely problematic because it permits children to think it is okay to stereotype the different types of people they see while watching videos. Video games also play a large role in this. Certain types of people are killed, and you receive points for the kill and some games even allow for slurs towards women like in the game GTA. This can seriously hinder the social development of children (The Impact of Stereotyping on Young People).
A keyway to avoid stereotypes is to have successful communication between individuals or groups. By learning the slightest information about the person or people you are communicating with, such as their experience, beliefs, or other personal information about them, you can gain form common ground to avoid stereotyping. However, if the communicators are strangers to each other, they can rely on culturally shared information to reduce stereotyping. Another way to avoid letting your beliefs overshadow a person is by receiving small details about them such as if they are tall or short.
Given the lifestyle we all lead in the 21st Century, it is hard to censor what we see especially while on our media platforms. With media constantly getting more efficient, the problem of stereotyping may only worsen causing more harm in our society.
Collins, E. C., Biernat, M., & Eidelman, S. (2009, February). In Stereotypes in the communication and translation of person impressions. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022103108001960?casa_token=K-i_v7IwSjQAAAAA:NXuClCj8IMHeaGr6zz8XPx9Lgez4l_cHk-7afbBcUTEmCIN1d5hOkPR6rAnVIeWxY1EvVoIVdQ
(n.d.). In Stereotypes in the Media. Retrieved from https://secure.understandingprejudice.org/apa/english/page16.htm
(n.d.). The Impact of Stereotyping on Young People. Retrieved from https://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy/media-issues/diversity-media/aboriginal-people/impact-stereotyping-young-people
Ross, T. (2019, January 31). In Media and Stereotypes. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-981-13-0242-8_26-1