The Impact of the Media

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What makes you? Is it what we see or listen to? Many people believe that our media is a major factor in who we are. Some think that it can change a person throughout their life. Everybody has heard that violent television or video games cause people to become violent in real life. There is also the common phrase, you are what you eat, and we consume massive amounts of media. If people are consuming such amounts, it leads to the belief that this media that our brains absorb will have some effect on us. There are extensive studies involving visual media’s affect, such as television or movies, on people. However, the fields that are studying audio media are more limited in their availability, more or less, because they just have not been explored yet. There are still studies involving music lyrics and tone of the music that have been done with varying amounts of success. Media, such as television, radio, and movies, affect people morally, socially, and behaviorally.
Every person has a set of standards by which they live their lives. These are a person’s morals. These morals are specific to each person and vary with each person making it exceptionally difficult to get a definitive result on a person’s change in morality due to a specific media affect. Studies still exist showing that certain media types such as music do affect people. It is difficult to be certain that it strictly affecting the morality of a person versus strictly ones behavior.
The Social Cognitive Theory is often used how one learns observed concepts and apply them life (Pajares et al. 21). This theory is the most often referenced theory when it comes to media research on people (Pajares et al. 23). The Social Cognitive Theory basically means that if a person watches the act of giving to charity that person is more likely to give to a charity. In all probability, it won’t be the same charity as the one observed, but that person is still more likely to give than one who never observed someone giving to a charity (Pajares et al. 22). IVET, or Immersive Virtual Environment Technology, is used to study the different effects of environments on people. IVET submits test subjects to different stimuli in order to see how their brain activity changes and how their written thoughts have changed (Pajares et al.

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20). Those people subjected to positive sources of media were found to have more positive thoughts and emotions after the test such as positive attitudes towards exercise (Pajares et al. 21).
Conversely, this also applies to the negative side of the media. This was seen in test concerning music genres and lyrics. It was shown that those who listen to rap or heavy metal music had a higher percentage of conceived bad morals and behaviors as compared to other more light hearted and positive genres. Those people were more likely to do drugs, have a decrease in academic success, arrests, and underage sexual activity (Anderson et al. 961).
Additionally to the morality factor of the human conscience there is the ever present social factor. This is how people act and respond to social situations presented to them. Everyone is taught how to act and be social differently based upon where they were raised, who raised them, and the environments that they have been subjected to. In today’s world media is a big part of everybody’s environment. It is nearly impossible to avoid some speck of radio, a television series, or even a magazine article if you do not live under a rock. For example, children ages 8-18 spend 3-4 hours per day watching some sort of television programming on average (Huesmann par 16).
Children are a major target for media that is looking to promote activities and ideals. Children are the easiest to influence and therefore make great subjects for media producers to put pressure on. They must go through their parents to get the things that they found that they want. This subjects adults as well influencing them vicariously through their children. Many times this is for the latest and greatest video game. On average, children between the ages of 8-18 spend about fifty minutes a day playing some kind of video game.
There is such a thing as a thin-ideal in today’s world. It is the idea that the thinner one is the more beautiful that person is. This is most common among women who are exposed to a lot of media that portrays extremely thin models as beautiful (Shaw et al. par 1). Social pressure to be beautiful and look the best has driven some of the propaganda toward thin beauty. The barrage of this thin-ideal on women is being studied and thought to be linked to eating disorders among women (Shaw et al. par 2). It also can produce negative thoughts about oneself which affects self-esteem and can change how one acts around strangers or go to another extreme and cause suicidal thoughts along with depression. The feelings produced range from low self-esteem to pure stress over one’s appearance. Viewing the social stereotypes all around in magazines and on television can even make one feel guilty or shameful about appearance (Shaw et al. par 1).
Another thought along with just straight observation is the ability to relate to what or who is being observed. It has been proven that the more relatable something the greater the chances are that one will learn or get conditioned to what they observe (Pajares et al. 21). It is comparable to trying to teach someone with no music background the importance of each individual part of a team or group versus trying to do the same with someone whom has played in a band or has music background. In music it is very easy to observe the importance of the third trumpets along with the first trumpets. Yes the first trumpets have the melody, but the thirds have the harmony that make the melody sound beautiful. The importance of each individual is well known in any band worth its salt. Those without any music background won’t be able to relate to that example and be less likely to learn the concept as quickly as the others.
One’s behavior is the most intertwined thought. It shows a person’s morals to the world and it is how one may act socially. It is how everyone perceives the people they see. People do not judge based on morals that are in ones head, no, they judge based on what they see from actions. If bad morals and behaviors are shown that is what is judged by others. How are your behaviors being affected by what media you observe?



Works Cited

Anderson, Craig A., Nicholas L. Carnagey, and Janie Eubanks. "Exposure to Violent Media: The Effects of Songs With Violent Lyrics on Aggressive Thoughts and Feelings." Valdosta State University. Valdosta State University, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
Friedersdorf, Conor. "The Gutless Press: In an R-rated World, why is American news PG?" The Atlantic July-Aug. 2013: 21+. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
Pajares, Frank, Abby Prestin, Jason Chen, and Robin L. Nabi. "Join Academia.edu & Share Your Research with the World." Social Cognitive Theory and Mass Media Effects. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
Potter, Joseph E. "Mass Media and Demographic Behavior." Encyclopedia of Population. Ed. Paul Demeny and Geoffrey Mcnicoll. Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2003. 626-628. Global Issues In Context. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
Potter, Joseph E. "Mass Media and Demographic Behavior." Encyclopedia of Population. Eds. Paul Demeny and Geoffrey Mcnicoll. Vol. 2. New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2003. 626-628. Global Issues In Context. Gale. West Salem High School - WI. 21 Oct. 2013.
Rowell L. Huesmann. “The Impact of Media Violence: Scientific Theory and Research”. US National Library of Medicine. National Institues of Health. PMC. NIH, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
Sun, Feifei. "The Reality-TV Rise of the Teen Mom." Time 18 July 2011. Global Issues In Context. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
Sternheimer, Karen. "Media Violence Does Not Cause Youth Violence." It's Not the Media: The Truth About Pop Culture's Influence on Children. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press, 2003. Rpt. in Mass Media. Ed. Roman Espejo. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
Trend, David. "The Negative Effects of Media Violence Have Not Been Established." Violent Children. Ed. Roman Espejo. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. At Issue. Rpt. from "Introduction: What Is Media Violence? The Cacophony of Voices." The Myth of Media Violence: A Critical Introduction. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.
"Video games do not make vulnerable teens more violent." Mental Health Weekly Digest 9 Sept. 2013: 285. Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.


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