The Impact of Popular Culture on Today’s Youth

The Impact of Popular Culture on Today’s Youth

As we progress into the 21st century, an increasing number of young people find themselves surrounded by the all-pervasive influence of popular culture. From music to movies, fashion to video games, young people are constantly bombarded with messages from these various forms of media. It’s evident that popular culture plays a significant role in the lives of today’s youth, but what impact does this cultural phenomenon have? In this article, we’ll explore the effects of popular culture on the younger generation and how it shapes their outlook on life.

Forming Identity and Sense of Self

Popular culture plays a valuable role in shaping the identity and sense of self for young people. They imbibe a plethora of messages from movies, songs, and fashion that present a certain lifestyle or ideal. While this cultural phenomenon has both positive and negative effects, the sense of self that young people build from popular culture can be an essential aspect of their identity.

For instance, the emergence of hip hop culture influenced the African American community’s identity. Hip hop’s music, fashion, and art were used to express resistance and power against oppression. The spread of this culture inspired disenfranchised young people to take pride in their heritage and history.

Body Image and Beauty Standards

Popular culture has also affected young people’s body image and beauty standards. From an early age, young people are exposed to idealized images of men and women that promote a particular body type. This can lead to severe issues like eating disorders and low self-esteem when they fail to live up to these unrealistic standards.

For instance, social media platforms such as Instagram present flawless, airbrushed versions of celebrities’ lives, and young people continuously compare themselves with them. The pressure to achieve this ideal body type can take a severe toll on young people’s emotional health and well-being.

Cultural Appropriation and Misrepresentation

Popular culture exploitation of cultures has also led to cultural appropriation and misrepresentation. Misappropriation of cultures takes place when a dominant culture co-opts aspects of a marginalized culture, thereby degrading the culture’s significance.

For instance, when a popular fashion brand uses Native American designs or a music video shows a woman dressed up in a sari or henna tattoos, it can be deemed as cultural appropriation. Young people have been exposed to these messages, fuelling a cycle of misrepresentation, racism, and cultural intolerance.


In conclusion, popular culture has an undeniable effect on young people’s lives, shaping their perspectives and behaviours. The influence of popular culture can be both constructive and destructive, and young people need to become more aware of its impact. Therefore, parents, schools and communities need to play a more active role in guiding young people towards critical thinking and the ethical implications of consuming popular culture.

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