April 23, 2008
MTV celebrates its 20th birthday in 2001. Many in the entertainment industry refer to those younger than 20 as “MTV babies,” because MTV had a major impact on the way TV programs are produced. MTV pioneered the fast paced, “in your face” style of programming and advertising. With quick cuts, layered graphics, multiple messages, loud audios, high impact visuals, frenetic bursts, and random transitions, this style has affected programming of every media type.
Did you know?
- MTV globally reaches 350 million households (PBS On-Line, 2001).
- MTV has been a very successful business because it is almost non-stop advertising. In addition to the traditional commercials the videos themselves promote new albums.
- 82% of MTV viewers are 12 to 34 years old, with 39% under the age of eighteen (Nielson Media Research, 2000)
- Music videos are designed for teenagers between 12 and 19 years of age (Rich, 1998).
- MTV is watched by 73% of boys and 78% of girls in the 12 to 19 years of age group. Boys watch for an average of 6.6 hours per week and girls watch for an average of 6.2 hours per week (Rich, 1998)
- MTV is the most recognized network among young adults ages 12 to 34 (Nielson Media Research, 2000)
Sexual Imagery, Violence, Alcohol and Tobacco Portrayal in Music Videos
- In one study 75% of concept music videos (those that told a story) involve sexual imagery and more than half involve violence – usually against women (Pediatrics, 2001).
- An analysis of music videos found that nearly one-fourth of all MTV videos portray overt violence and depict weapon carrying with attractive role models being aggressors in more than 80% of the violent videos (DuRant, 1997).
- One-fourth of all MTV videos contain alcohol or tobacco use (DuRant, 1997).
- A longitudinal study found a positive correlation between TV and music video viewing and alcohol consumption among teens (Robinson, 1998).
- According to some research even modest viewing of MTV and other music videos results in significant exposure to glamorized depictions of alcohol and tobacco use, alcohol use linked with sexuality, and violence and weapons.
- When lyrics are acted out in a story telling music video, their impact is enhanced.
- Music videos appear to contribute to teens’ desensitization to violence.
- The use of violence by music video stars makes it normal and more acceptable.
- At least two experiments show that watching MTV results in more permissive attitudes about sex. One of these (Calfin, Carroll, & Schmidt, 1993) found that college students who were assigned to watch MTV developed more liberal attitudes toward premarital sex than their peers who did not watch MTV as part of the study. In the second (Greeson & Williams, 1986) found that seventh and ninth graders were more likely to approve of premarital sex after watching MTV for less than one hour.
What to do
- Restrict viewing of MTV by younger children.
- Limit exposure to MTV and other music videos with older teens.
- Talk with your teen about what they are watching.
- Consider contacting your cable company and blocking access to music video channels.
- Calfin, M.S., Carroll, J. L., & Schmidt, J. (1993). Viewing music-video tapes before taking a test of premarital sexual attitudes. Psychological Reports, 72, 475-481.
- DuRant, R. H. (1997). Tobacco and alcohol use behaviors portrayed in music videos: content analysis. American Journal of Public Health, 87, 1131-1135.
- DuRant, R.H., Rich, M., Emans, S. J., Rome, E. S., Allred, E., Woods, E. R., (1997). Violence and weapon carrying in music videos: a content analysis. Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 151, 443-448.
- Greeson, L.E., & Williams, R.A. (1986). Social implications of music videos on youth: An analysis of the content and effects of MTV. Youth and Society, 18, 177-189.
- Nielson Media Research (2000).
- PBS On-Line (2001) with Todd Cunninham. PBS.org (visited 6/8/2001).
- Pediatrics (2001, January). Sexuality, contraception and the media. 107, 191.
- Rich, M., Woods, E., Goodman, E., Emans, J., DuRant, R. (1998, April). Aggressors or victims: gender and race in music video violence. Pediatrics, 101, 669-674.
- Robinson, T. N. (1998). Television and music video exposure and risk of adolescent alcohol use. Pediatrics, 102, p5. Web site: www.pediatrics.org/cgi/content/full/102/5/e54 (visited 6/18/2001).