There are many arguments for and against the stereotypes portrayed on television. It seems that, no matter how you argue, television does have a role to play in influencing youths. Mr. Carl Jung had an idea about the human psyche that involved stereotypes, or archetypes, that people inherently knew from birth. These preconceptions guided people's behaviours in their day to day interactions with other people.
Inherent knowledge aside, I feel that television plays a vital role in helping people encode and decipher identities. That is, television presents stereotypes that become subconsciously ingrained into modern culture and people draw from those images to mold themselves into an easily recognizable stereotype. Television, in other words, act as the "key" in this code: people who identify themselves in a particular way want others to identify them in the same way and so they assume qualities that have been associated with that identity, regardless of whether that quality defines them as a person. These stereotypes that people learn from television and other pop culture media also helps them in identifying other people. People are quick to judge, not because of bias, but because there is a need to rectify the uncomfortable feeling of not knowing how to interact with someone.
Here's an example. My girlfriend got her Bachelors last year in June, but she went back to school in order to become a high school teacher. Before her practicum, she expressed a dire need to go out and buy some "teacher" clothes and a "teacher" bag. These are items that would allow her to show that she wasn't a student, but a teacher. By acquiring and using these items, she is hoping that other people will identify her as a teacher and not as something else.
This is not a bad thing. Rather, it is a necessary thing. People do not walk around with a large version of their business card pinned to their shirt to help you identify them. There is a reason why the police and other important people have uniforms. It is because there is a need for people to recognize and correctly identify each other. Television is a huge factor in this communication process, however, as I mentioned last week, some of the "stereotypes" that it portrays is dangerously wrong and is being picked up and assimilated by the wrong demographic.
So, while we can't and we shouldn't stop television from stereotyping people, there are some things that we have to be careful about. Along with the images of "adulthood" being shown to the tweens, there are still some unfair and malicious portrayals of the homosexual demographic on television as well, which can cause some serious harm to people trying to encode their identity and to people trying to decode it.
As human beings, our mind works at a million miles a second. It is important that we learn to understand where our feelings and behaviours come from. Doing so will allow us to improve ourselves and the way we interact with others. If for nothing else, it will help us to hone our encoding/decoding ability.