Media is considered to be one of the most powerful entities on earth. It can be traced back as early as 868 AD, when the first book ” Diamond Sutra,” was published. Everyone has been exposed to media in some way, making it have an impact on society as a whole. The influence that media has on society is possibly caused from societies dependence on TV, Internet, and other forms of media because of humans need to feel accepted, attractive and popular. In 2010, it was estimated that kids were spending more than 28 hours a week watching TV. This obsession is thought to put an abundance of power into the hands of the media, allowing them to control the minds of their viewers with the information that they broadcast. This information has negative and positive effects on the way that individuals think and behave. It has a positive influence because it educates people on important events happening around the world. This information is easily accessible within seconds, keeping viewers up to date. The media negatively influences society because of its portrayal of extremely thin and beautiful woman as the norm, causing females to feel dissatisfied with their bodies, potentially leading to eating disorders. The media also depicts men as tall, dark, and handsome. People become obsessed with reality shows such as The Hills, which consists of flawless looking men and women living in Hollywood. This teaches society that it is normal to live a fantasy life such as those on The Hills. This results in a distorted perception of what beauty is. These issues can be resolved by individuals limiting their exposure to media, and by not buying into the ideas or images that are presented on TV. This may be difficult to achieve because media is a part of every day life, may it be checking ones email, reading a magazine, or watching the news.
One article that addresses the controversial issue of media’s effects is “On The Continuing Problems Of Media Effects Research,” by Sonia Livingstone. In the article, Livingstone discusses the exposure of media, specifically TV, and its effects on individuals behavior and beliefs. The author conducted an experiment on the effects that media violence can have on kids behavior. She chose a group of kids from 4-5 years of age to watch a violent film, in which role models of the kids were rewarded for behaving violently. Livingstone then put the kids in a toy room where they were observed. The kids that had watched the film engaged in violent encounters with one another. The research showed a link between kids exposure to violence on TV, and the behavior that was a result of the exposure. The results showed that when kids were shown TV shows with violence, the kids tended to act more violent than before. The author explains that… “Children may and often do identify with characters who are rewarded for their aggression in television programs.” This information is important in determining the influence of media because it shows a negative view on the issue. It provides evidence for the argument that media has a negative impact on those that are exposed to it. Sonia Livingstone is a professor of Social Psychology and Head of The Media and Communications Department at The London School of Economics, making her a reliable source for this topic.
A second article that I found was “ Measuring Media Exposure And The Effects of Negative Campaign Ads,” by professors Paul Freedman and Ken Goldstein. In this article, the authors discuss the negative impact that media has on campaigning. Freedman and Goldstein compared political campaign commercials,voter turnout, and The National Election Studies data to determine if the media had a negative effect. The research showed that advertising had no effect on voter turnout ; the opposite of what the two had hypothesised. The campaign commercials evidently made the individuals more interested in voting. This article is important in exploring the effects of media because it shows a positive view on the topic. It is obvious from the article that the two authors believe that media has a negative influence on voter turn out. However, this opinion isn’t enough to prove such an accusation. Freedman and Goldstien are unorganized in their way of collecting data, and their hypothesis ends up being proven wrong. This article is useful in learning about individuals who view media and advertising as a negative influence. However, the studies weren’t planned in an efficient and organized manner, making the article confusing to read.
A third article that I found was “The effect of the media on body satisfaction in adolescent girls,” written by Helen Champion and Arian Furnham ; professors of psychology at The London College of University Learning. In this article, the authors discuss the responsibility that media has in causing body discomfort and eating disorders in adolescent girls. Champion and Furnhman conducted a study on 203, predominantly white, adolescent girls from different grade levels. These girls were weighed and measured, and then asked which category they felt that they belonged to out of : thin, slightly underweight, just right, slightly overweight or fat. The subjects were also given a questionnaire that they answered rating the dissatisfaction that they had with their bodies, when compared to celebrities, using a scale of 1-7, where one was ‘zero’ dissatisfaction and seven was high dissatisfaction. The research showed that of the 75.9 percent that considered themselves slightly overweight or obese, 32.5 percent actually were by health standards. Furthermore, only 4.3 percent of girls who were underweight considered themselves to be out of 11.5 percent who didn’t. This article is important in exploring the issues of media’s influence because it represents a negative of view that is popular in the discussion of whether or not media has positive or negative effects. This article was helpful in learning a different view point of medias influence. The evidence helped me gain a better understanding of the link between eating disorders and the media. Howeever, the authors used too much of their own opinion in this article, making it very one sided.
The issue of whether or not media has a negative or positive impact on society is widespread in today’s culture and involves the opinions and perspectives of multiple groups and institutions, such as teachers, parents, and national leaders. After conducting this inquiry, I feel that there still needs to be a lot done in order to resolve the problems that the media has created for society. There needs to be more involvement from those effected by it. We are blaming ‘society,’ yet we are society. So to make it a better place, we must change ourselves first. As a society we need to be the change that we wish to see, by fighting against the influence that media has had over our lives.