Mass Media Impact on Society, Families, and Social Change
Mass Media Impact on Society, Families, and Social Change
Mass media is the collection of different communication technologies designed to reach a wide audience. These technologies are used as conduits for interacting with the large majority of the public. Television, the internet, radio, magazines, and newspapers are most common avenues for mass media. Historically, mass media has been used for sending and receiving different messages. Initially, rudimentary forms of communication such as radio were used by over time the other avenues were innovated. The accessibility and popularity of such platforms endear them to the populace. Members of the public are always quick to shift their allegiances to any trending platform because of its ability to connect with their needs. As such, these technologies have a significant influence on general and topical issues. Mass media positively and negatively contribute to societal development.
Impact on Society
Mass media is helpful in updating the public with the latest information and news. It aids in keeping people informed of their immediate surroundings and far-flung geographical locations. For example, television broadcasts have specified periods for news bulletins and occasionally interrupt their normal programming to cover events in real time. Such technologies have an inherent educational value by contributing to the acquisition of good vocabularies amongst the audience. Research indicates that most people prefer the traditional form of newspapers rather than its virtual equivalent precisely because of the former’s ability to enrich one’s vocabulary (Taylor & Harris, 2008). They are therefore great sources of nourishing literary activities. People can have better communication skills and higher levels of intellect. It is also within the purview of these arenas to provide healthy living tips that aid in the promotion of good dietary habits and proper physiological growth. Advertisements are laden with numerous sources of advice for keeping fit, prevention and cure of diseases and achieving a work-life balance that is integral in prolonging the lifespan of the population.
Media technologies are however detrimental to the development of a moral society. For instance, popular films and television shows integrate violence into their plots. Such gory scenes are broadcast to all types of audiences. Children who are still growing up do so while embracing a culture that glorifies ferocity. Psychologists have determined that such individuals develop an aggressive behavior, which shapes their personalities. The film Nightmare on Elm Street inspired the 2004 killing spree perpetuated by Daniel Gonzalez (McQuail, 2007). This trend soon culminates in an angry society, especially when most people are disillusioned due to lack of jobs, heartbreaks and bereavement. Additionally, mass media has a corrosive effect on the youth by shaping the narrative of what is considered “cool” and what is not. For example, it encourages their partaking of sexual intercourse, drugs, and alcohol which lead to the recurrence of destructive behavior with dire consequences. In fact, these technologies pile pressure to the masses for conformity to a hedonistic lifestyle. As such, there is a high prevalence of premarital sex, drug addiction, and a rape culture (Haerens & Zott, 2014). The resultant cases of unwanted pregnancies, drug addictions, diseases, and death have socioeconomic bearings on the loved ones, members of the community and the nation because of the financial and emotional imbalances that arise.
Media platforms encourage materialism which entails the warped mentality that pursuit of beauty and wealth is the measure of success. Several media emphasize looks, especially amongst women, as a symbol of greatness. In fact, they intentionally brand slim women as beautiful and plus-size slander ones. They also spread the notion that becoming rich, by any means, is the only source of happiness and fulfillment in life. These false identities seriously dent the uplifting of ethical standards among members of the public by making people lazy, criminals and obsessed with money. It also facilitates unhealthy physiological growth within the populace as people strive to have the “perfect” body. Such individuals suffer from public ridicule which leads to depression and hopelessness. The isolationist tendencies of mass communication technologies become a source of public division pitting the “haves” and “have not” which creates a tense atmosphere of hate between the two camps. This results in the endless confrontations, mudslinging, injuries, and deaths pitting both sides. It promotes anarchy within communities and makes it difficult for people to coexist in a cloud of suspicion. In fact, it facilitates criminal activities aimed at self-aggrandizement and accumulation of wealth at the expense of others. All this is attributable to the vicious cycle of achieving material gains.
Impact on Families
Extensive research on households indicates that 63% of American families watch television when eating dinner. In most instances, these periods are the only time that families have to bond after a long day at work or school. It is therefore notable that such circumstances help in the promotion of good behavior amongst the family members. For example, parents can capitalize on the quality time afforded by such opportunities to offer guidance on the good and bad traits (Taylor & Harris, 2008). They can easily point them out from the different media platforms available to them. Additionally, these avenues aid in tutoring different family members on their roles and responsibilities to one another. For instance, magazines are filled with spousal content which offers practical solution to marriage problems. Such pieces tend to positively influence the creation of long-term relationships. In fact, mass technologies provide real-life examples of other people’s experiences which form the basis of adopting corrective behavior amongst the intended audience for building a better and more harmonious family.
Media addiction is responsible for most family breakdowns. Cumulative studies archived by various organizations reveal that the younger generation has become fixated on the use of social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Male adults are always glued to the television sets to watch their favorite sports teams play while females prefer watching their favorite romantic programs and films. These habits create a distance between family members and most of the time impede opportunities for spending quality time with each other. Family members tend to avoid one another and are always “busy” (Manjoo, 2016). Counselors have also established that such behavior widens rifts in the households because issues are not addressed on time, and victims experience emotional stress due to the lack of interest from other members of the family. Particularly, it leads to dysfunction within the home whereby husbands neglect their wives and children become rebellious owing to the influence of bad behavior inherent in various media outlets. The soaring divorce rates is a testament to the pervasive nature occasioned by minimal interactions amongst them. Such urges to keep abreast with their favorite pastimes erodes their love and concern for one another leading to the accumulation of emotional debts whose only resolution lies in separation.
Mass media encourages the growth of a disorganized household. Spending too much time on these outlets causes procrastination of chores such as cleaning and cooking. Repetition of this routine enhances family conflicts because culprits always look for excuses to justify their inactions. Domestic abuse is a natural consequence of such altercations. Verbal abuse and physical battery are common under such circumstances. As such, these platforms escalate family feuds and place members on a collision course (Haerens & Zott, 2014). For example, the O.J. Simpson trial coverage managed to highlight the extent of damage that domestic abuse can do to victims. Sometimes the actions of aggressors are influenced by the very media avenues they find appealing. For example, the forms of abuse espoused above are well portrayed in articles, radio talk shows, television programs, movies and social media. It is unfortunate that people go to extreme lengths to copy such bad behavior although this exhibits the vile nature of these platforms. For example, the Blue Whale Challenge video game craze that was popularized by social media contained violent graphics, coarse language and rebellious characters which became the basis of delinquent behavior amongst teenagers. Such entities hasten disrespect for parental guidance that creates fissures in most homes. This, in turn, heightens parental resentment resulting in the former’s punishment or dissertation of the family home. Such dysfunction is unhealthy because it destroys the social fabric and imperils the safety of other family members.
Impact on Social Change
Social change encompasses the alteration of communal behavior aimed at achieving a readjustment of shared values and beliefs. The advent of the Information Age revolutionized the ability and scope of communication amongst people. In particular, the internet’s ease of accessibility by anyone regardless of his/her location has simplified the modes of interaction. It is therefore notable that mass media has facilitated cultural, political and social change within the society. It has become a tool for positive advocacy work which is premised on informing the public about their rights and obligations. For example, environmentalists have regularly used both print and electronic media to advance the need for greater participation in tackling climate change. This approach has changed public awareness levels of different issues and helped rally communities to this cause (Haerens & Zott, 2014). Similar avenues have facilitated monetary donations by launching crowd funding initiatives geared towards offsetting medical bills, rescuing victims of natural disasters, alleviating poverty and building modern infrastructure. It has also encouraged regime change in various localities by providing widespread coverage of whistleblowing activities that expose the trampling of human rights, corruption, cronyism and dictatorial tendencies. As such, these avenues have become mouth pieces for speaking truth to power, demanding justice and pressurizing inept leaders into submission. For example, the Arab Spring rallied support for the toppling of dictators in Libya, Algeria and Egypt. They are powerful sources of assembly for the populace, whose influence cannot be overlooked by people in places of authority. As such, these outlets have progressively enhanced their profile as promoters of prosperity and peace around the world. They have echoed the sentiments of millions of people seeking for a just society that allows them to pursue their goals in a conducive environment that is free from discrimination of any kind and anybody.
Mass forms of communication have evolved into propaganda machines that spread stereotypes and negativity within the society. Such tools have become mouthpieces for spreading malice (Voltmer & Koch-Baumgarten, 2010). They have instilled fear on minority groups and promoted the dominance of other ethnicities, further fueling hatred. For instance, white supremacists are given preferential treatment, and marginalized groups are demonized. Continuous publicity of similar ideologies has contributed a great deal to suppressing genuine grievances by the affected demographics and facilitated the submission into unfair social habits. For example, it has helped to lobby a vast majority of the population into believing that people from another gender, ethnic background, financial status, religious affiliation and political leaning are evil and deserve loathing. Such platforms foster hostility to the “enemy’ group which is often touted as the reason for regular warfare amongst the perceived adversaries. It has also aided in the creation of a hostage mentality amongst the victims who find it necessary always to use any opportunity to defend themselves. In other instances, these platforms have eroded ethical standards and sanctity of human life by promoting evil (Taylor & Harris, 2008) For example, advocacy for religious freedoms has enabled the spread of atheism, aggressive video game revolutions have glorified mass suicides, and agitation for sexual liberties have accelerated the growth of homosexuality. These radical social changes have been abetted by the mass media which capitalizes on its ability to influence a large section of the community into altering its beliefs about certain sociocultural values.
Communication is an important part of human interaction and mass media has become a vital tool for serving this purpose. Electronic and print media have evolved as people become more attached to them. Their appeal to the masses has increased the level of influence they possess over a large segment of the society. Mostly, their power is derived from the fact that millions of proactive users, listeners, viewers, and readers are always available at a moment’s notice. These platforms have significantly affected the society, families and social change. They have become pacesetters in setting the narrative for different issues for members of the public, informed the lifestyle choices for several families and become advocacy tools for numerous causes. Competition for a wider audience amongst the players indicates that mass media will always be there. These avenues have had both positive and negative effects on the populace leading to the promotion of good and evil within communities.
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Haerens, M., & Zott, L. M. (2014). Mass Media. Farmington Hills, Mich: Greenhaven Press.
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McQuail, D. (2007). Mass communication. London, UK: Sage.
Manjoo, F. (2016, November 16). Social Media’s Global shaking Power. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/17/technology/social-medias-globe-shaking-power.html Bottom of Form
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Taylor, P. A., & Harris, J. L. (2008). Critical Theories of Mass Media: Then and Now. Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: McGraw Hill/Open University Press.
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Voltmer, K., & Koch-Baumgarten, S. (2010). Public policy and mass media: The interplay of mass communication and political decision making. New York, NY: Routledge.
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