Section 1: Article Review
In recent years, the impacts of sexualized media, including video games, on adolescent self-objectification have received considerable attention from researchers. Self-objectification refers to the process by which individuals internalize an outsider’s perspective on their body; instead of valuing their inner qualities, they see themselves as items to be judged primarily on their physical attributes (Katz-Wise, 2013). The objectification of females, in particular, has been identified as a significant issue in the media, where women are often portrayed in a sexualized manner, and their value is placed on their physical appearance rather than their character traits. The negative impact of self-objectification on adolescent mental health, particularly for girls, is well-documented. In this context, the role of parental attitudes and behaviors in reducing adolescent self-objectification needs to be examined. The research by Vandenbosch et al. (2017) investigated the impact of sexualized video games on teenage self-objectification. The study found that exposure to sexualized video games was positively associated with self-objectification for both boys and girls (Vandenbosch, 2017). However, the study did not examine the role of parenting factors in reducing adolescent self-objectification, which is a crucial factor in determining the research outcomes. The authors acknowledged this limitation and suggested that future research should investigate the impact of parental attitudes and behaviors on adolescent self-objectification in the context of sexualized media.
Based on the research by Vandenbosch et al. (2017), it can be hypothesized that parental attitudes and behaviors can significantly reduce the impact of sexualized media on adolescent self-objectification. Parents who are more involved in their children’s lives, provide emotional support, and communicate openly about sexuality and body image, may decrease the likelihood of their children self-objectifying. These factors can help to build resilience and self-esteem in adolescents, which can counter the negative effects of sexualized media on their self-concept.
Moreover, parental attitudes and behaviors that support gender equality and challenge traditional gender roles can also play a crucial role in reducing adolescent self-objectification. Parents who encourage their children to engage in a wide range of activities and hobbies, regardless of their gender, can help to break down gender stereotypes and provide a more diverse range of role models for their children. This can help adolescents to develop a more holistic self-concept that is not solely based on physical appearance. Therefore, it can be concluded that positive parental attitudes and behaviors are vital factors in reducing adolescent self-objectification in sexualized media. By promoting emotional support, communication, resilience, and gender equality, parents can help to mitigate the negative effects of sexualized media on their children’s self-concept. In the next section, I will present all the necessary journal articles supporting the abovementioned hypothesis.
Section 2: Literature Review
In today’s media-saturated environment, adolescents are exposed to various sexualized media messages daily. Such messages portray individuals as sexual objects and emphasize their appearance and attractiveness as the primary determinant of their worth. This phenomenon has become a significant concern for parents, educators, and researchers. One potential consequence of sexualized media is self-objectification. Self-objectification is associated with various negative outcomes, including decreased self-esteem, poor body image, and increased risk for disordered eating and depression. As such, it is essential to understand the impact of sexualized media on adolescent self-objectification and explore ways parents, educators, and other stakeholders can mitigate its negative effects.
Several studies have investigated the impact of exposure to these sexualized media. The findings have consistently revealed that exposure to sexualized media is positively associated with negative body image, lower self-esteem, and increased self-objectification. However, it has been recognized that parental factors can be crucial in reducing adolescent self-objectification in sexualized media. For instance, Speno and Aubrey’s (2019) study investigated the relationship between adolescent sexting and self-objectification. Throughout the research, the authors focused much on the impacts of parental mediation and communication on adolescent self-objectification. The study found that parental mediation and communication can significantly reduce the negative impacts of sexualized media on adolescent self-objectification. The authors argued that parents play a central role in their children’s sex education and that effective communication between parents and adolescents about sex can reduce sexual risk behaviors such as self-objectification (Speno & Aubrey, p. 100). According to their research, parents who engaged more actively in their children’s lives by offering emotional backing and discussing sexuality and body image openly had children who had a reduced tendency to view themselves as objects.
Furthermore, Katz-Wise et al. (2013) researched the relationship between mother-adolescent connections and self-objectification. The researchers found that adolescents who had a better relationship with their mothers were less likely to experience body shame and more likely to have higher body esteem (Katz-Wise et al., 2013). This aligns with earlier research that has demonstrated that positive relationships, including effective communication with parents and a sense of acceptance, are linked to improved body image and less dissatisfaction with one’s body. The authors employed a self-objectification scale, which measures the degree to which individuals view themselves as objects based on their physical appearance. They discovered a negative correlation between the degree of self-objectification and the relationship quality with the mother. That is, the better the connection with the mother, the less likely the adolescent was to objectify themselves. This study adds to the growing body of research on the significance of parental relationships and acceptance in shaping adolescents’ attitudes toward their bodies. Positive parental connections can help adolescents develop a healthier sense of self and improved self-esteem, contributing to a more positive body image. On the other hand, negative parental relationships can lead to self-objectification and feelings of shame about one’s body. The authors recommend that parents promote positive connections with their adolescents, such as engaging in open and supportive communication, showing interest in their activities and interests, and being positive role models.
Another research conducted by Bouwman et al. (2017) explored the role of parental factors in reducing adolescent self-objectification in the context of sexualized media. The authors note that women’s bodies are frequently objectified in media and social interactions, leading to negative outcomes for young people, particularly girls (Bouwman et al., 2017). The study found that high levels of parental closeness were associated with positive outcomes for children and adolescents. Both maternal and paternal closeness were positively correlated with children’s self-esteem and expressiveness, which in turn were associated with lower levels of self-objectification. The findings suggest that parental closeness may be crucial in mitigating the negative effects of sexualized media on young people’s self-esteem and body image (Bouwman et al., 2017). By providing emotional support, validation, and positive feedback, parents can help their children develop a sense of self-worth and confidence that protects them from the harmful effects of objectification. Furthermore, the study highlights the importance of both maternal and paternal involvement in promoting positive outcomes for children and adolescents. Fathers, in particular, have been found to play an essential role in promoting positive body image and healthy attitudes toward sexuality in their daughters. The study by Bouwman et al. underscores the importance of parental factors in reducing adolescent self-objectification in the context of sexualized media. By fostering a close, supportive relationship with their children, parents can help promote positive self-esteem and healthy attitudes towards sexuality and protect their children from the negative effects of objectification.
Research suggests that self-objectification is more prevalent among females than males, and it starts in adolescence when children become more self-aware and sensitive to social comparisons. According to McKay (2013), parents can play a critical role in reducing self-objectification among adolescents by promoting media literacy (p.65). Media literacy refers to critically analyzing media content, such as images and messages, and understanding how they shape attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Media literacy can help individuals to resist negative media influences and make informed decisions about their self-image and body satisfaction. McKay (2013) suggests that parents can help their children learn media literacy by encouraging them to question the contents they are exposed to. By examining these contents, children can develop critical thinking skills and become more resistant to media messages that promote self-objectification.
Moreover, McKay (2013) argues that parents can promote media literacy by exposing their children to diverse media representations. Research shows that exposure to various media representations can enhance body satisfaction and reduce the negative effects of self-objectification. Parents can help their children seek media sources representing diverse body types, ethnicities, and abilities. By doing so, children can develop a more inclusive and realistic view of beauty standards. In addition, McKay (2013) suggests that parents can help their children develop a positive self-image by limiting the amount of time children spend on media outlets (p. 65).
In today’s society, children are constantly exposed to media messages that are sexualized. According to Vangeel et al. (2022), these messages can be found in traditional media, such as popular television programs and social media platforms like Facebook. Such messages often depict individuals as sexual objects or judge them based on their physical appearance, which conforms to narrow beauty standards set by society. This exposure to sexualized media can lead to self-objectification, where adolescents begin to view their bodies as instruments to be judged based on their physical appearance rather than focusing on their personality and feelings (Vangeel et al., 2022). This can be especially detrimental to adolescents, who are still developing their self-image and self-esteem. However, there are approved ways for parents to help their children combat the negative effects of sexualizing media messages. According to McKay (2013), when parents co-view these messages with their children, they can create a sense of closeness and positive emotions (p. 65). Parents can help their children develop a healthier attitude toward their bodies and reduce self-objectification risk by providing input, guidance, and perspective on what their children see. McKay also suggests that parents can provide positive feedback to their children about the effects of exposure to these messages. By doing so, parents can help their children understand that these messages do not reflect reality and that they do not need to conform to narrow beauty standards to be valued (McKay, 2013, p. 65).
To establish how sexualized pictures posted to social media affect adolescent girls’ mental health, Papageorgiou et al. (2023) performed a study emphasizing the roles played by parents. Researchers concluded that parents should take an active part in helping their children develop healthy self-perceptions in the face of sexualized media. The study found that parents feel that encouraging their daughters to follow the Instagram profiles of people they like for their achievements rather than their attractiveness, such as authors and activists, can mitigate the harmful effects of social media on their daughters’ mental health (Papageorgiou et al., 2023). Adolescent girls might lessen their likelihood of having a poor body image and self-objectification by looking up to role models that encourage them to follow their dreams and pursue their passions rather than those who promote unattainable beauty standards. In addition, parents wanted access to more contemporary resources for their girls, particularly regarding where to refer them for assistance. The parents of these girls understood the significance of seeking professional assistance, particularly if they did not feel capable of providing the required support. In addition, parents looked to parental aid to help them understand how to mitigate the detrimental impacts of sexualized media on their daughters. The study highlights the importance of parental considerations in preventing sexualized media from contributing to adolescents’ self-objectification. Adolescent girls’ mental health and well-being can be safeguarded in the modern digital world if parents take proactive steps to promote positive role models and seek appropriate support for themselves and their daughters. The results of this study stress the importance of continuing studies and treatments that strengthen parental support for young women in the face of sexualized media messages.
In conclusion, the impact of sexualized media, such as video games, on teenage self-objectification is a major worry for educators, parents, and researchers. Self-objectification involves adopting an external view of one’s body and considering oneself an object to be appraised based on physical appearance instead of inner characteristics. This behavior has several adverse consequences, such as low self-worth, negative body image, and a heightened risk of developing eating disorders and depression. Several studies have found that exposure to sexualized media is positively associated with negative body image, lower self-esteem, and increased self-objectification. However, parental attitudes and behaviors that promote emotional support, communication, resilience, and gender equality can significantly reduce adolescent self-objectification in sexualized media. Positive parental connections can help adolescents develop a healthier sense of self and increase their resilience to the negative impacts of sexualized media. The study by Vandenbosch et al. (2017) found that parental attitudes and behaviors in reducing adolescent self-objectification need further examination. The literature has also established the role of parental mediation and communication in reducing adolescent self-objectification. Moreover, Katz-Wise et al. (2013) found that positive relationships, including effective communication with parents and a sense of acceptance, are linked to improved body image and less dissatisfaction with one’s body. Parents, educators, and other stakeholders need to understand the impact of sexualized media on adolescent self-objectification and explore ways to mitigate its negative effects. Positive parental attitudes and behaviors are vital factors in reducing adolescent self-objectification in sexualized media. These factors need to be emphasized in future research and interventions.
Bouwman, H. L., Berntson, T. A., & Carpentier, P. B. (2017). Daddy’s little princess: paternal relationships and self-objectification. http://works.whitman.edu/326
Katz-Wise, S. L., Budge, S. L., Lindberg, S. M., & Hyde, J. S. (2013). Individuation or identification? Self-objectification and the mother–adolescent relationship. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 37(3), 366-380. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684312468425
McKay, T. (2013). Female self-objectification: Causes, consequences and prevention. McNair Scholars Research Journal, 6(1), 7.
Papageorgiou, A., Cross, D., & Fisher, C. (2023). Sexualized Images on Social Media and Adolescent Girls’ Mental Health: Qualitative Insights from Parents, School Support Service Staff and Youth Mental Health Service Providers. International journal of environmental research and public health, 20(1), 433. https://doi.org/10.3390%2Fijerph20010433
Speno, A. G., & Aubrey, J. S. (2019). Adolescent sexting: The roles of self-objectification and internalization of media ideals. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 43(1), 88-104. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684318809383
Vandenbosch, L., Driesmans, K., Trekels, J., & Eggermont, S. (2017). Sexualized video game avatars and self-objectification in adolescents: The role of gender congruency and activation frequency. Media Psychology, 20(2), 221-239. https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2016.1142380.
Vangeel, L., Trekels, J., Eggermont, S., & Vandenbosch, L. (2022). Adolescents’ Objectification of Their Same-Sex Friends: Indirect Relationships With Media Use Through Self-Objectification, Rewarded Appearance Ideals, and Online Appearance Conversations. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 99(2), 538-562. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699020959723