How Media Impacts Society

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Information about How Media Impacts Society
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Published on March 13, 2014

Author: cmoriarty

Source: authorstream.com

How Media Impacts Society: How Media Impacts Society A look at the role of Electronic and Print Media and the Impact of each one on our society The Issues of Media in Our Society: The Issues of Media in Our Society A Few Things To Ponder Television can be a powerful entertainment and educational tool for children given the right programming. Studies have shown, however, that television, and media in general, can also have a very negative influence. Some studies indicate it can shorten attention span, distort body image, work in conjunction with other factors to escalate obesity, create fear, and increase aggressive and anti-social behaviors if exposure is unmonitored and unlimited. The Role of the Mass Media: The Role of the Mass Media The extent of the influence of television, films, men’s magazines, women’s magazines, paperback books, and radio, is undoubtedly far greater than generally realized. Because of the media’s almost total saturation in american culture, the actual extent of their influence upon ideas and values is hard to quantify. We often forget that young people represent radio’s most dedicated and loyal audience. It is not unusual for a single top 40 radio station to reach 75 percent or more of an area’s teenagers every week. The Role of the Mass Media: The Role of the Mass Media With television, the most influential medium in the United States, the sexual and violent messages are more obvious to adults. Television producers have long known that opposition to sexual themes in television varies greatly according to education level, geographic location, background, and age. Consequently, they can never please all of the people all of the time. Producers also know that sex and violence garners ratings and therefore, profits. The Role of the Mass Media: The Role of the Mass Media At the same time, it is not so much the sexual emphasis in tv programming that bothers many social scientists, but the unrealistic portrayal of human sexuality. Considering a New Approach: Considering a New Approach It is in the younger age groups that problems, due in large measure to our prevailing unhealthy social attitudes about sex and teen behaviors, are known to result in “tragic and devastating” consequences. Given all that has been outlined thus far, what is an approach that is consistent with the facts? Considering a New Approach: Considering a New Approach Contrary to the general attitudes and prejudices in this connection, if such practices were introduced early and naturally into the life of children, it would go a long way toward reducing the false shame, morbid curiosity and unhealthy attitudes that now are evident with respect to these issues. Exactly what messages are we instilling in young viewers about the prevailing attitudes and values in society. Adult social responsibility has always required that older people help the young in effective life adjustment. Considering a New Approach: Considering a New Approach According to research, in too many cases adults are creating more problems in the area of human sexuality, violence, explicit lyrics, etc. than they are solving them. WHO ARE THESE ADULTS…? The Root of the Problem: The Root of the Problem The Root of the Problem: The Root of the Problem SOCIETY AS A WHOLE!!!!! WE NEED TO STEP UP AS ADULTS AND BECOME THE ROLE MODELS THAT YOUNG PEOPLE NEED!!! The Social Impact of Television Part 1: The Social Impact of Television Part 1 This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is only wires and lights in a box. ------Edward R. Murrow Social Impact Part 1: Social Impact Part 1 Critics blame television for everything from obesity to the murder rate. While television is easy to criticize, and much of the criticism is justified, we also need to keep in mind that television benefits society in many important ways. In this module we will start our look at the effects---both good and bad---of this pervasive medium. Just how pervasive? Social Impact Part 1: Social Impact Part 1 Today, the average American watches close to four hours of television each day. Based on this, by the age of 65, the average U.S. citizen will have spent nearly 9, nonstop, 24 hour a day years glued to the tube. What follows will provide even more insight into the power of television--- and suggests some sobering things to think about. Social Impact Part 1: Social Impact Part 1 98.5 percent of U.S. households have at least one television set. 90 percent of households have two or more television sets. 87 percent of households have at least one DVR type device. The average American spends 34 hours a week watching live TV. (3-6 watching taped programs.) TV and Children: TV and Children 81 percent of children aged 2-7 watches TV alone and unsupervised. 70 percent of daycare centers use TV during a typical day. 54 percent of 4-6 year olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, said they would prefer to watch TV. It has been shown that children who watch more than ten hours of TV per week suffer negative academic effects. The average U.S. child aged 2-11 watches TV 20 hours a week. TV and Violence: TV and Violence By age 18, the average American child sees 200,000 violent acts on TV. By age 18, children witness almost 20,000 murders on TV--most by handguns. 73% of the time the people in TV dramas who commit violent crimes go unpunished. TV and Violence: TV and Violence 47 percent of violent situations show no real harm to the victims, and 58 percent show no real pain. Only 4 percent of violent programs show non violent alternatives to solve problems. 80 percent of Hollywood executives think there is a link between TV violence and real life violence. TV and Obesity: TV and Obesity During Saturday morning cartoons there are typically more than 200 “junk food” commercials. At least 12 medical studies link excessive television watching to increasing rates of obesity. In 1963, 4.5 percent of children ages 6 to 11 were seriously overweight; by 2013 that percentage was 33 percent. TV and Commercials: TV and Commercials Before graduating high school the average U.S. child will see 360,000 commercials. By age 65, this number will expand to two million commercials. The number of commercials in TV programs per hour has increased every year. Why We Watch TV: Why We Watch TV It has been found that most viewers do not turn on television to watch a specific program. They simply decide to watch television and then find a program that looks interesting. This is least objectionable program (LOP) model of television viewing. Why We Watch TV: Why We Watch TV We also know that most children and adults watch TV in a kind of relaxed, transfixed state of awareness. In the view of some psychologists the fact that people aren’t critically thinking about what they are seeing while in this state means that situations and commercials are passively accepted on somewhat of an unconscious level. Some go so far as to say that because of this, TV has a kind of hypnotic influence. Why We Watch TV: Why We Watch TV We like to be entertained. We like excitement. We like to see handsome men and sexy women. We like to vicariously (and safely) experience the experiences of other people. We like to be drawn into fantasy worlds that we will probably never be able to experience first hand. But, maybe, most of all, we like to passively relax in front of “the tube,” select our vicarious experiences, and let them flood over us without any real effort on our part. What is wrong with that? Why We Watch TV: Why We Watch TV Nothing, in moderation. In fact, to stay mentally and physically healthy, it is important to spend some time relaxing each day. Plus, it’s been proven that it’s healthy to laugh and release our tensions. With TV we can enjoy the humorous escapades of our TV friends. And then there’s the information we gain from TV. Why We Watch TV: Why We Watch TV We first realized the impact of TV during the mid 1900s. U.S. citizens had been reading about the civil rights struggle for decades. But it was only when TV came along in the 50s and 60s and viewers saw in TV news footage what was really happening, that the country amassed political pressure to take action to change things. U.S. citizens had also read about war for decades. But when they started seeing newsreel footage of dead, maimed and wounded American soldiers every night on TV as a result of the Vietnam war, the majority of the country soon turned against the war. All of these things had been reported in great detail in newspapers for decades; but reading about them was one thing, seeing them was another. Free TV Isn’t Always Free: Free TV Isn’t Always Free I n countries like the U.S. where most TV relies on commercials to exist, viewers pay a price for their “free TV.” Just about 50 percent of the programming is commercials. Not all commercials are in breaks from programming. Some are in the programs themselves. This is called product placement, and it may be a conspicuous can of Coke or a Starbucks coffee held by an actor. Advertisers pay for this visibility. This advertising cost is added to the cost of goods and services that we buy, and it amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars a year. But there are also other costs. Free TV Isn’t Always Free: Free TV Isn’t Always Free Critics say that commercials make us materialistic and suggest that happiness and well-being revolve around material possessions. Commercials often pair happiness with products we need to buy. Examples they give are the simplistic scenarios we often see in commercials. If you have a disappointing love life, you can solve the problem by changing to a new brand of toothpaste, a new breath mint, a new brand of jeans or a different shampoo. Free TV Isn’t Always Free: Free TV Isn’t Always Free Although you may laugh and assume these commercial messages don’t affect you, advertisers know they do. They don’t pay $200,000 dollars a half minute for a commercial on the remote chance that it might increase sales---they know it will. How many tubes of toothpaste do you have to sell in :30 seconds to pay for that commercial? Such is the power of television! The Social Impact of Television Part II: The Social Impact of Television Part II In the next four modules we’ll examine the social impact of television from the standpoint of seven major criticisms. Although there are almost as many gripes about media as there are viewers, it would be difficult to find a complaint that didn’t fall into one of these areas. When we get through examining the criticisms, we will discuss some of the positive effects of television also The Social Impact of Television Part II: The Social Impact of Television Part II The Critics of TV and Media Say That Television: Debases the arts and audience tastes Undermines moral standards Encourages escapism Engages in economic exploitation Exhibits a liberal bias Sets up false images of reality Distorts reality through omission 1. Television debases the arts and audience tastes. To debase something is to water it down, or undermine it.: 1. Television debases the arts and audience tastes. To debase something is to water it down, or undermine it. This criticism, which some see as a bit high brow, is more relevant to U.S. programming that tries to appeal to the LCD (lowest common denominator) than to all of television. The United States leads the world in entertainment programming but not in film and TV programming that many feel is more socially desirable and beneficial. 1. Television debases the arts and audience tastes. To debase something is to water it down, or undermine it.: 1. Television debases the arts and audience tastes. To debase something is to water it down, or undermine it. Compared to the United States, many countries feature more current events programming, documentaries, in-depth news, “good” music, and meaningful dramatic productions. Since there are no alternative TV stations in many of these countries, people watch this programming and, as a result, develop a greater understanding of world events and a greater appreciation for the arts. At the same time, when any one person or group decides what is good or bad for everyone else, we enter a dangerous area. To Censor or Not to Censor: To Censor or Not to Censor The survival of a democracy rests on a free flow of information and an informed electorate. Someone or some agency “dictating” what you should or not see or know about is the approach dictators use to control their people. In fact, when dictators take over a country a free press is the first thing to go. Who would you trust to decide what you should and should not know about--what you should and should not be able to see on TV or read in a newspaper. To Censor or Not to Censor: To Censor or Not to Censor Today, there is public support for suppressing violence and sex in the mainstream media. So the question becomes, when is it acceptable to suppress or censor what the public can read, see or hear? “It’s generally assumed that the public has a right to protect it’s own safety, but not the political or religious interests of any one group at the expense of others.” To Censor or Not to Censor: To Censor or Not to Censor Using this as a guideline the public has a right to suppress or censor violence and sex in the media. Many studies show a link between media violence and antisocial behavior. (The research on sex is not as clear.) But there is a problem. Media violence and sex are clearly linked to ratings, and ratings are clearly linked to corporate profits. And, as we saw in the ongoing cigarette-cancer debate that lasted for decades, or even with the recent global warming debate, when profit centered issues are involved, it can be a long time before public pressure prevails. To Censor or Not to Censor: To Censor or Not to Censor In the violence-sex issue, then there is the matter of who decides what is too violent or sexy. What is and isn’t acceptable has changed dramatically over the years. In the early days of U.S. broadcasting, the words “virgin,” “pregnant,” and even “stomach” were not seen as suitable for audiences to hear. On screen kisses were once seen as being indecent. To Censor or Not to Censor: To Censor or Not to Censor A public kiss is still indecent in some countries. Years ago there was a cultural backlash when a well known American actor kissed a popular actress on stage in India. Not only is what is acceptable and unacceptable moving targets in America (they keep changing with the times,) but as we’ve seen with the various motion picture codes, they vary with observers. Although what is and what isn’t detrimental to public’s general welfare is often hotly debated, when we get to what is moral and immoral, that is based on belief, which complicates things. That brings us to the next criticism 2. Undermines Moral Standards: 2. Undermines Moral Standards This area of criticism garners the most complaints from viewers. Although there are many moral issues related to media content, sex and violence create the greatest stir. (As we noted earlier, attitudes toward this issue tend to be related to education and other demographic characteristics.) Chief among the moral concerns are casual sex (sex outside of marriage or without a loving commitment, and gratuitous violence (unnecessary and graphic violence added to the programming for the sake of gaining ratings.) Depiction of Casual Sex: Depiction of Casual Sex This is probably the most volatile of the media issues-- especially in certain areas of the country. But, research on the subject appears to be at odds with prevailing public opinion. In the minds of many, not only is casual sex a sin, but it leads to life threatening disease and unwanted pregnancies. Even though some influential U.S. religious and government groups have opposed sex education, the two decade decline in the rate of unwanted pregnancies in the United States appears to be primarily due to sex education. TV Violence: TV Violence Those who criticize television for showing gratuitous violence cite the fact that by the time they are 18, U.S. children typically see nearly 20,000 murders on TV. Most of these murders appear to be without consequence and most are represented as the “solution” to a problem. Studies show that each year the level of violence on TV in films increases--with 2007 setting a new record high. TV Violence: TV Violence “Real life” violence and murder normally have profound and lingering effects on both the people involved and on their friends and families. This painful reality is normally glossed over or ignored in film and TV drama. It’s significant that even 80 percent of Hollywood executives (who have vested interest in maintaining profit related violence on TV) feel there is a link between TV violence and real life violence in society. We’ve noted that violence in films and TV, although related to ratings and profits, causes harm to individuals and society. TV Violence: TV Violence In order to enjoy the level of social order that we do, we must all abide by the laws we’ve established. Thus, programs that send the message that it’s okay to ignore the law to achieve “what’s right” create major problems. Plus, it’s difficult to find someone who will not try to justify his or her behavior in some way-- no matter what they do. The Social Impact of Television Part III: The Social Impact of Television Part III 3. Encourages Escapism Some people maintain that television has become the “opiate of the people” (opiate from opium, a mind numbing narcotic.) We all need to take some time to relax and escape from the responsibilities of the day. But we quickly create problems for ourselves when we use anything---alcohol, drugs, constant socializing, TV, etc.-- as a way of escaping our personal responsibilities. The Social Impact of Television Part III: The Social Impact of Television Part III A stereotypical male in this category comes home from work, grabs a beer, nukes his dinner and falls asleep in his chair at 11pm. He resents any interruption. He spends no time with family and just sits there escaping. The Social Impact of Television Part III: The Social Impact of Television Part III Although we assume not too many people actually fit this description, the shades of truth it suggests undoubtedly explains why so many people are overweight--and it might go a long way toward explaining why so many children get into trouble due to a lack of parental attention and concern. Is television the opiate of the people? For some people at least it may well be. The Social Impact of Television Part III: The Social Impact of Television Part III 4. Engages in economic exploitation. In the United States, commercial television is a money making business---it makes money by getting viewers to spend money on advertised products. Program popularity is critical because it means that more people will watch the commercials, and, as a result, more products will be sold. “In one sense, TV programs are basically a means to get people to watch commercials.” The Social Impact of Television Part III: The Social Impact of Television Part III 4. Engages in economic exploitation. This isn’t all bad. The United States has one of the most vigorous and successful economies in the world, due largely to the power of advertising. This drives competition, which, in turn, keeps prices low, and boosts quality and innovation. At the same time, in order to sell products, needs often have to be created in people’s minds. The Social Impact of Television Part III: The Social Impact of Television Part III 4. Engages in economic exploitation. Advertising is designed to generate a need to buy certain brand-name products, which may be more expensive than lesser known brands, while not being significantly better. Some other commercial ideas: Some other commercial ideas Some other commercial ideas: Some other commercial ideas Economic Exploitation: Economic Exploitation Using advertising to try to convince us that owning the “right things” and maintaining the right image (including being slim, trim, and beautiful) is, in the minds of the critics, economic exploitation The two strongest messages we’re sending through television are that popularity is everything, and that if it doesn’t make money it’s not worth anything. 5. Exhibits a Liberal Bias: 5. Exhibits a Liberal Bias If we look at the moguls who control the media we would have to concede that almost to a man (and most are men) they are all basically conservatives--some even ultra conservative. So how did the media get the liberal image? Generally speaking--and there are many exceptions-- people in business tend to be conservative and people who have a background in the social sciences- through education or working with people-- tend to be liberal. Why is that? 5. Exhibits a Liberal Bias: 5. Exhibits a Liberal Bias From the standpoint of many conservatives TV news tends to be liberal, in part because it features stories with an underlying social bent, things of concern to liberals. Plus they feel it emphasizes the liberal point of view. From the standpoint of liberals, television is conservative because it’s seen as being pro-business, and because it does not give adequate time to alternative, non-mainstream views- or in other words, their views. 5. Exhibits a Liberal Bias: 5. Exhibits a Liberal Bias Simply put, management is geared towards whatever generates profits. Even the most conservative media owners, CEOs, directors, etc. use sex- which is not exactly associated with mainstream conservatism- to enhance profits. The Social Impact of Television Part IV: The Social Impact of Television Part IV 6. Sets up false images of reality This criticism is somewhat related to the next one which talks about distorting reality through omission. Those who cite this criticism feel that TV perpetuates stereotypes, especially when it comes to minority groups. According to some stereotypes, the “bad guys” tend to be from one or two minority groups. The Social Impact of Television Part IV: The Social Impact of Television Part IV Let’s look at some other stereotypes: Italians are associated with the Mafia; the CEOs of major corporations would sell their own mother for a profit; and military types think in terms of if in doubt, kill it. Here are some more stereotypes in the media: The Social Impact of Television Part IV: The Social Impact of Television Part IV Some people would paint the youth of America as being mostly juvenile delinquents, gang members, or punk rock types. All of these stereotypes do a major disservice to the whole truth, of course. The Social Impact of Television Part IV: The Social Impact of Television Part IV In the old days of westerns, the “good guys” wore white and the “bad guys” wore black making it easy to tell them apart. Today, many people find it easier to pigeonhole people in terms of “black and white” (typically in terms of nationality, skin color, sexual preference, etc. rather than cope with the “shades of gray” that more realistically represent the human condition. The Social Impact of Television Part IV: The Social Impact of Television Part IV Those who cite the “sets up false images of reality” criticism say that in order to get messages across quickly to the LCD ( lowest common denominator) audience, issues are simplified and even to a degree, symbolized. There is also another factor to be considered; many people have a vested interest in holding onto their beliefs (prejudices)--they want to believe them--and they resist or reject attempts to set the record straight. “Reject” is a word that program producers don’t like to hear. The Social Impact of Television Part IV: The Social Impact of Television Part IV 7. Distorts Reality Through Omission Previously, we mentioned that some liberals feel that TV tends to omit alternative, non-mainstream views. They feel that because mega corporations own most of the media outlets that there is unspoken pressure on writers and others not to report things that would hurt the business interests of a sponsor. Sometimes maintaining personal and professional integrity comes at a great price. But, then again, there is satisfaction in being able to look at yourself in the mirror each morning and know that you haven’t “sold out” your personal or professional values by agreeing to omit news that the public has a right to know. The Social Impact of Television Part V: The Social Impact of Television Part V In this final module on the social impact of television, we’ll look at some of the positive aspects of the medium. The points will be briefly summarized in three major categories. Television is a “window on the world” for news information. We previously noted that many social problems are only acted up after they are reported on television. The Social Impact of Television Part V: The Social Impact of Television Part V Newspapers and the print media provide a degree of separation from reality, but TV graphically brings happenings right into living rooms, complete with color, sound, time sequences, and even to some degree, the associated “feelings.” Reading about thousands of children starving in Africa or some other country is one thing; seeing the misery on TV is quite another. The Social Impact of Television Part V: The Social Impact of Television Part V Compared to newspapers, television may be superficial when it comes to reporting facts. However, good pictures can still be worth 1,000 words. Pictures can convey many things beyond facts and statistics. The Social Impact of Television Part V: The Social Impact of Television Part V When TV is responsibly programmed and viewed with a critical, educated eye, it’s capable of looking through the gloss and facades of people and events, giving us glimpses of the reality lying beneath. Television is capable of making us an “eyewitness” to events as they happen. These events can range from the hostile invasion of a country to “Monday Night Football.” In this regard, TV breaks down the barriers of distance and becomes an extension of our senses. The Social Impact of Television Part V: The Social Impact of Television Part V 2. Television provides needed escape and relaxation. To a great extent, we’ve already discussed this in previous modules. Suffice it to say, television allows us to momentarily escape our problems and experience the experiences of other people. The Social Impact of Television Part V: The Social Impact of Television Part V We can become awestruck with the beauty and grace of the arts, or caught up in the frenzy and excitement of an athletic event. We can even allow ourselves to be momentarily lost in a beautiful fantasy world. The Social Impact of Television Part V: The Social Impact of Television Part V 3. Television introduces new ideas and information. Before the mass media, an important threat to health, a new medicine, or improved ways of doing things could take months or even years to become commonly known. Today, that time is typically cut down to a day--or even a few hours. Included in this category are new products and services that will make our lives easier or safer, new recipes, important safety procedures, and even instructions on home improvement and repair. The Social Impact of Television Part V: The Social Impact of Television Part V Even on a personal level, not to change can mean that we get left behind professionally and replaced by people with newer ideas-- or even be replaced by a machine. In today’s competitive, information centered world, to stand still is to fall behind.

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