Considering the impact of the media peers and family is large on any issue, the affects on this should not be surprising. You probably have already considered the impact of the media peers and family for other issues, such as health behaviours or the value you place on health. There is a great impact of the media peers and family on our perceptions of health. How we understand and interpret health is largely influenced by those closest to us, including our friends and family. More and more, our understanding of any concept is being shaped by media. So, let’s look at some of the impact of the media peers and family on perceptions of health.
The impact of the media on our perception of health has dramatically increased with advances in technology. It used to be the case that in order to see an advertisement you had to walk into town to see a billboard, or go to a cinema to watch a show. Now we wake up in the morning and the first thing we do is check our phone.
We now access our magazines, news, sports, friends, clients, businesses, movies and TV over the internet using personal technology. The increase in exposure to media has meant a rise on the impact that media can have on our perception of anything, including health.
Media communicates information about health in two ways: implicit and explicit. The easily identifiable ways are explicit. Shows like the Biggest Looser, or news articles that discuss the rising obesity levels or raise awareness for prostate cancer are all explicit. However, the implicit communication is usually more effective in affecting our understanding of health and bring about changes in our perception without us realising. Implicit communication occurs through movies, marketing and television shows. The use of beautifully workshopped images to advertise health products or frequently seeing beautiful actors playing the happy healthy person affects the way we think about health and then affects our behaviour.
Peers impact our perception of health also, as our frequent conversations occur with them, and often they are the first person we go to for answers to our questions. This applies to many things, including health. You will have more conversations about health with your peers than anyone else. And in groups, humans tend to adopt the position of the group leader rather than do their own research and come up with their own understanding and interpretation.
With regards to health, interpretation is usually acquired by the person most beautiful in the group, or the person who is most sporty. This person may or may not have a good understanding of health, but regardless, what they say influences your perception of health. Once the group position health is established new members will take on this position in order to be in the group, rather than because it is the right perception.
For example, a group that values health and encourages each other to eat vegetables and fruit as part of a balanced diet. Who value time together and accept people putting family first, and may even all believe in the same higher purpose for life, will cause others to be similar. However, if the group smoke, drink and drive dangerously, people who join the group are more likely to accept these behaviours and views of health.
Family possibly have the largest impact on our perception of health. Family construct the basis of your beliefs, knowledge, wealth, environment, and more for the first 16-30 years of your life. The opinion of your parents will often outweigh that of an expert in health because of their position and not their knowledge. The interpretation you develop concerning health while living with your parents will likely be the interpretation you have when you are older and what you pass on to the next generation.
For example, if you are raised in a family that is abusive, smokes, eats fast food and thinks they are healthy, you are likely to think this as well. However, if your family go for a walk every day together, eat plenty of nutritious food, have a thriving social life and have no mental or emotional issues, you are likely to develop the same habits and values and interpret health within your upbringing.
The impact of the media peers and family on our perceptions of health is much larger than what has been touched upon here.