Teen Magazines & Their Effects on Teenage Girls

By Bonnie Crowe
Teen magazines spend more time giving girls make-up tips then advice on their health or well-being.
Teen magazines spend more time giving girls make-up tips then advice on their health or well-being.

The media, and the images they promote, can exert significant influence on kids and teens. Teen magazines, with their emphasis on dating advice, dieting tips, make-up and fashion, can have a profound psychological effect on a child going through a difficult adolescence. For example, each year, thousands of teens starve themselves in an attempt to look as thin as the models and celebrities in their favorite magazines. If you're concerned about these magazines' effect on your daughter, take time now start a discussion.

Appearance over Health

Teen magazines spend most of their precious non-ad space printing beauty and cosmetics information over other kinds of content, such as school, health or career advice. In fact, an article on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ website, Healthychildren.org reported that only 12 percent of the editorial content in the typical teen magazine didn't relate to beauty and fashion tips, while the Henry Kaiser Foundation found that only five percent of articles celebrated teen independence and only three percent were about health issues.

Relationship Advice

Girls reading teen magazines are prone to comparing themselves to the models and celebrities featured and may6 aspire to have the kinds of dating lives that their movie and music idols have. A study by Taylor Research and Consulting Group found that teen girls were almost as influenced by the magazines they read as they were their peers. Advice on how to get a boy to like you and how to act on dates are common subjects of the articles that fill teen magazines, and may play a role in steering teens into relationships they aren't ready for, all in an effort to “fit in” or be popular.

Body Image

According to the Center for Mental Health Services, 90 percent of those with eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 35. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates five million Americans have been touched by an eating disorder in one way or another every year. Teens see models and celebrities touting the latest diet or sporting super-skinny physique, and don’t realize that these are impossible and unhealthy standards. According to HealthyChildren.org, girls often compare their bodies to these underweight models and end up with a negative body image.

Get Involved

The best way to influence on your teen girl’s views on dating, relationships is to be involved in her life. It may not be a bad idea to limit the exposure your daughter has to popular magazines, but to make sure your teen has a positive body image and a healthy outlook on dating, sit down and talk to her. Talk with her about the magazines she's reading and the music she's listening to and ask how she feels and what she thinks about the messages the media sends young women. That will serve as the springboard for a healthy discussion about real beauty and appropriate role models.

About the Author

Bonnie Crowe is a mother of two teenagers; a teacher and author of children's books, curriculum and articles on English grammar, literature, technology, art, parenting and career guides for high schoolers. She's a former director of AOL Parenting, a member of SCBWI, and a graduate from the University of California,Berkeley.