It is a fact that information is the key to awareness. Information is a gathering of facts which grasps the minds of an individual. Nowadays the possibilities to reach information are vast, if not to say boundless through media coverage. Apparently, this is hard to argue about. The media provide everyone with news all over the world and perform this function professionally. Mass media’s impact on people especially to the young generation is quite an ambiguous issue that needs to be understood hence discussions are being presented for more clarification in order to have a clearer vision on the impact of mass media among the youth.
For the last 50 years, the influence of the media has grown rapidly with the rise of advance technology. Ways of communications became more evident and more highly technical in nature. Before, telegraph was the only means of communication to distant locations then came the radio broadcasting. When the printing press was established, newspapers and magazines sold rapidly through the influence of news media. More so, the exposure of news on television widened the scope of the media.
People have become dependent on what the mass news media can bring for information in all aspects of life. It seems that an individual often decide on things that are based on information gathered from friends and family and other more reliable sources provided by the media. Indirectly speaking, we are not even aware that we rely so much on what the media had brought into our lives (Rayuso).
It is obvious that people are in extreme need of media as a source of information. By means of television, radio, newspapers, magazines and internet everyone gets abreast of any particular news he or she is interested in or has to know. With the help of mass news media, each person is able to receive information and then let it be processed by the skeptical wit of his/her own not to be deceived. Indeed, however necessary and indispensible mass media may be for humans it is always appropriate to switch on analytical thinking and along with ‘pros’ to weigh the ‘cons’.
Presumably, the “against” factors will prevail. Everyone’s evaluative and decision-making behavior largely depends on facts he or she has at their disposal. How much credible and irrefutable these facts may be is the question for consideration. In the special focus of attention are young people, teenagers whose disposition and capability of thorough and deep analysis is quite crude and unstable. TV broadcasting network, for instance is supposed to impose much impact on youth through violence and sex images, ‘etalons’ of beauty, inundating advertising. To think only, 95 % of all media space belongs to five grand companies such as Vivendi Universal, Time Warner, Walt Disney, VIACOM and News Corp which monitor and coordinate people through not only television as such (Mass Media Influence on Society). Moreover, they comprise the sphere of entertainment, news broadcasting, programming, even electronic media and software. Hence, they are empowered to model public opinion in general and that of vulnerable youth in particular. Youngsters are very much prone to form their standpoints on the grounds of ads they see on TV, in magazines, internet and elsewhere via media (Rayuso).
“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense” (Gertrude Stein, American writer). Indeed, disagreeable, even staggering incidents take place in result. Young girls obsessed with the modern trend of thinness try to emulate ‘body image’ of models from the TV fashion shows or magazines full of glittering pages with perfect women. Influenced by such imposed tendencies, girls find themselves on the edge of suicide. One girl, 24-year-old, wrote: “I had a nose job done, since I thought it was too long. However, back then, I did not consider myself ugly, I was just willing to improve my appearance. Well, after I got the nose job I started hating myself… I broke up with my boyfriend after surgery because I cannot let him see me. I look terrible…I have been having suicide thoughts because of this…I feel very unhappy” (Experience project. June 14th, 2010). Unfortunately, such an example is not a single case of a youth’s impaired psyche. According to Sarah Murnen, body-image researcher, “the promotion of the thin, sexy ideal in our culture has created a situation where the majority of girls and women don’t like their bodies”(Sexton).
Another aspect of media impact is concerned with the display of aggression in life which is supposedly provoked by violence on screen. On the other hand, three are research evidence that prove this correlation. According to Brandon Centerwall, University professor, Washington, a significant leap of murder rate was caused by the penetration of TV sets into North America in 1950s.
Allegedly, there is psychological aftermath of violence in media that is reflected in aggressiveness. If people, especially young ones, undergo violent infliction by means of screen images they become the victims of higher blood pressure or heart rate what may lead to more aggression in life. Some surveys even prove such interdependence by evidence that children exposed to violence in cartoons (Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker etc.) display more aggressive behavioral patterns in life or even after becoming adults.
On the other hand, some scholars and psychologists claim, that media violence enables children to encounter real world picture of anger, frightening things, awe that people try to avoid, appease and not show (Moore).
Mass media has a vast number of countless institutions and groups which have different background, context, method and purpose. It carries all kinds of information that are communicated to big number of people from local to international news with no barrier hence misconceptions are often conceived. Mass media has a vague meaning with broader scopes that covers our everyday lives that we are almost dependent on them from the smallest information and updates in our respective homes up to the political arena and even the whole universe. The media covers entertainment industry and the news industry. The news media covers the news industry which is often interchanged with the people who do the write up and the news reporting otherwise known as “the press”. The difference between the two is incoherent and that’s the reason behind why they are often misinterpreted. News reporting is technically based on including editorial opinions as expressed and interpreted by corresponding journalism professionals. Journalists and management determine how much time they devote in news events and how they are being reported (Akin).
The media are frequently found in various industrialized countries wherein they have a big impact on how the population made their views globally. Almost all news in the US is being covered by the newspaper including events in other larger communities and the whole. They not only do the reporting but they also decide on what and how to report and how much time they would give to any event. If they think that it’s newsworthy, they spend more time and space and decide who they are going to interview and how they are going to frame the picture hence the audience (we) view the world on how the media had “picked” their news.
The news media often survive on events that cover conflicts because it attracts the viewers and the listeners and the readers as a whole. If there are more conflicts, the greater the audience impact and this is very relevant on the monetary achievements of media outlets (Akin).
On the other hand, without media coverage on certain events, the people wouldn’t know what’s happening in the neighborhood. Most people don’t go to different places just to verify on certain issues. People largely depend on new media regardless whether it’s biased or not. Another function of the mass news media that makes it very relevant is the information it quickly covers especially in times when there are critical events like weather forecasts. People will be given due time to take the necessary precautions and get out from the area. Useful announcements can be relayed to people especially on critical war zone areas to get out of the way or alert the people to avoid going to traffic congested areas. Useful health related topics can easily be relayed to people as well. Further, Elected officials or other leaders can communicate with the constituents through the new media in order to reach them. It is a fact that those who don’t watch the news cast will feel violated or cheated due to lack of information dissemination from the officials themselves hence they again call the assistance of news media to communicate with these people (Laws).
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF MASS MEDIA ON THE YOUTH?
As modern technology soared high to every man’s life, the youth becomes more independent from their parents. In whole essence, it is the role of the parents to guide their children whenever they are watching the television hence the word “For Parental Guidance’ always appear on TV screens. Media violence that is being presented on TV and video games often creates aggressive behavior among children. This is because children are too young to differentiate fiction from reality that they tend to imitate what they see on TV. This is what you call cognitive script. This means that the children who see violence on TV like kicking and punching often reacts the same way as their defense mechanism in real life. It is therefore the role of the parents to educate their children on the right kind of TV programs to be viewed so that they will know which program is good to be viewed or tell them that it is not appropriate for young children to see such movie. It is also best for the parents to limit their child’s viewing on TV not more than seven (7) hours a week (Robinson, Thomas et al).
Every individual should be responsible for his/her own doing and not totally blame on what the mass news media has brought in broadcasting. You have to weight things carefully and study the pros and cons of the ideas being presented on the TV screens. Further, seek other’s second opinion on certain issues particularly on matter pertaining health like promo ads on health reducing pills, beauty tips etc.
Deciding on what the news was all about needs a value judgment. This simply means that you have to weight things carefully without prejudice and not jump to any conclusion right away.
After all, these are just very few of the exemplifiers to demonstrate what a negative role mass communication may play in the lives of people it is supposed to serve. Thereby, it is of high importance to resort to media literacy, the movement initiated in 1980s-1990s intended to show indignation of all those who do care about the scale of media cruelty, atrocity and mercantilism. Such literacy focuses on the issues referring to and aimed at setting control of televising network and the recipient’s decisions it may arouse, developing and improving analytical and critical thinking when perceiving this or that piece of information and media-provided portrayal of political, economic, social and cultural issues. Thus, mass media must inevitably require much more profound insight into what information source suggests. “Information is not synonymous with knowledge. Information is only data, parts of the whole. Knowledge has a moral imperative to enhance intellectual and spiritual unity (Media Awareness Network).
It is therefore very important for the younger generation to be media literate. In so doing, they can be protected from compelling issues they see on TV that could possibly be misleading to their young minds especially on issues pertaining to sex and violence, use of drugs, smoking and even rampant display of unhealthy foods through advertisements on TV.
We can make them understand the importance of communications skills and educate them on various ways of interpreting media messages. Nothing is better than communicating with the children and explaining to them the importance of what we see and read on TV.
Mass new media plays a very important role in our lives hence it is only proper that the younger generation be educated on the moral values that they get by watching TV. The media’s impact to the community is indeed very visible so it is our best defense to resist being manipulated and keep a good viewpoint on the images and implications that are part and parcel of media as a whole (tooSMARTtoSTART).
Akin, Jennifer. “Mass Media”– Beyond Intractibility.org March 2005
Hellmich, Nanci. “Health and Behavior” Sept. 25, 2006
Laws, David, “Representation of Stake holding Interests”– The Consensus Building Handbook. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. 1999.
Media Awareness Network “Media Issues: Media Violence” 2010
Rayuso. “Mass Media Influence on Society.”- Hub Pages
Robinson, Thomas N. et al. “Effects of Reducing Children’s TV & Video Games on Aggressive Behavior” – ARCH PEDIATR ADOLESC MED. Vol. 155 January 2010
Sexton, Timothy. “The Media and Influence on Body Image and Beauty.” Wed April 6, 2006
tooSMARTtoSTART. “Why is Media Literacy Important”- U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services July 8, 2010