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Mass Media and its Influence on Society

Updated on August 26, 2012

There is no mistaking that modern day society is greatly influenced by mass media every day, and in many different forms. Many of these are usually depended on and included in personal lives, being utilized for entertainment, work, communication, and education as far as news and information gathering. People often remember all of their favorite television shows they watched growing up as well as the ones they view now. Some of these shows signposting many of their memories in a nostalgic manner. There is favorite music you may listen to, and how does it move you? Possibly affecting you emotionally, or perhaps sparking a dream. There is news heard and witnessed on mass broadcasts across major network channels. Is it necessarily accurate? Does it invoke a sense of security or alarm? One should not forget cell phones, laptops, notepads, I-Pods, touch pads and kindles. It is obvious to see every day the incessant use of these interconnected items? Then there are movies; with everyone churning through the ticket booths to experience another rollercoaster ride on the big screen, taking them to some distant galaxy, or maybe just next door to the neighbors house where a family desperately struggles through a crisis. Inevitably, much of what people hear, see, and experience every day comes from some sort of electronic device which transmits media material all of the time.

The internet is a media tool almost worth talking about in an entirely separate forum, yet it is comparable to most media exposure. The World Wide Web is probably the most unified and far reaching media channel to date. You can converse with someone in Kamchatka in the eastern hemisphere while viewing an advertisement in a foreign language on the same page. Then if you enter some of your personal information online, forgetting later that you did so; and then wondering why you get so much junk mail in your E-mail box. The mass media finds its way into almost every aspect of peoples lives.

Over time, this technological media entity has become mammoth and omnipresent. It is everywhere you go, finds its way into most of what you do, and even provides you sometimes, with what you need; almost becoming a cybernetic surrogate mother we all readily accept without much question. It can be beneficial to society in its influence, yet sometimes have a bad effect. It can lead or mislead people into the wrong direction or belief. There are times in history, distant and near, where it has greatly inspired, united, and motivated the masses. Let it be known, that it can also be used maliciously; to injure, or even achieve an injustice. The mass media can be a very powerful tool, and if not handled properly, with good judgment to govern, can become an enemy of society. Anywhere in the world, this media instrument greatly affects all persons indigenous and non-indigenous to where that region may be. So, to take a look at some of the most prominent and powerful sources of mass media, the influence they have on society, and the resulting effects on individuals in that society.

Major sources of mass media

First, there is television, which has been around for approximately 60+ years. The vast majority of society engages in television every single day. Some are loyal sitcom series fans, or make it a point to watch award shows. There are movies, game shows, reality shows, documentaries, cooking shows, talk shows. There is a show for just about anything you can think of. Now, the point may not be just how many shows there are; but what are the contents of it, and what kind of message may in convey? Would you watch it with your parents, or better yet, your kids? Television can have a definite effect on the mind in how one sees the world, how you process things, and how people govern themselves emotionally. This influence amongst children is thoroughly looked at and studied in the article by Kyla Boyse from University of Michigan. Kyla states that “children are more susceptible to obesity, lethargy, and lack of focus due to prolonged television viewing.” It promotes no physical activity, for none is required to participate, or very little for that matter. It could be damaging for a child to not get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. People listen to radios usually in the car, on the way to work, or going to the beach. Music stations are usually playing publicly in workout gyms as you exercise and even in theatre lobbies while you make your way to your movie. Cell phones, computers, and touchpads are constantly in touch with the rest of the world, transmitting message after message as they send and receive information. All of these sources are literally loaded with commercial advertisements; that are there to invoke a specific purpose. This fact influences all that come in contact with it.

Ana Maria Petrescu speaks about it extensively, as she looks at the effects of mass media in an in depth study. Her socio-psycho, and pedagogical approach revealed that “The Effects of Television on the Human Mind, when watching television excessively, inhibits the development of operating strategies of the left hemisphere of the brain, which leads to damage in the ability to use language, logical and analytical thinking”. This of course is a prominent case amongst mainly teenagers. Children are affected as well, but tend to not be overrun by it due to high levels of supervision from parents. Usually as a child enters adolescence, parents tend to let the rope have some slack so to speak, and less supervision is the result. No doubt, the adolescent probably spends tremendous amounts of time on the smart phone, watching TV, and on the internet. It’s no mystery that child obesity is a well-known problem growing in society. Less physical activity and more technology has been the tune lately.

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Ridiculous TV reality shows, displaying adults behaving horribly, and setting a terrible example for youth, as well as young adults.
Ridiculous TV reality shows, displaying adults behaving horribly, and setting a terrible example for youth, as well as young adults.

Then there is the issue of the specific messages that are received across these channels of mass media. What do they induce amongst individuals? Is someone likely to be moved emotionally or mentally by these messages of advertisement, opinion and solicitation? Absolutely, there have been many cases in the past and present day proof you can see. Even the very products people possess could be a result of a mass media message they may have received. A panic could break out when a hurricane warning comes across the air, or the news broadcast. When people heard of the earthquake in Japan many people responded with empathy and concern. There is proof that mass media most certainly affects society every day on a regular basis, and sometimes without knowledge of it.

Influences on society

Many times children have run out of the movie theatre chasing each other; one of them being Spiderman, the other the Hulk. Then a child’s excitement when they pass by McDonalds, or hear on the radio that the fair is coming to town. People were greatly moved by what they heard in reports on the day of 9/11. Some individuals have even burst into a fit of anger when they heard about their favorite sports team losing or being bad mouthed by a surly sportscaster. The types of clothes people wear are possibly a result of the media, as well as what products they buy. Certain beliefs can be effected by mass media, even to the point of national panic as was seen on October 30, 1938 when “War of the Worlds” was broadcasted over a national radio station. (Lovgen, Stefan) Most of society more or less builds and structures their day with many types of media transmitters in them. It is virtually impossible to separate yourself from them, unless you lock yourself away in room forever. Even then, you may hear a radio through the wall.

Reporters greatly rely on cell phone communication in order to get the first spot on a story. All of society at one time or another, experiences effects from the mass media, whether it be large or small. There are short and long term effects that come from mass media as well. Have you ever had the urge to turn the Television or radio off due to the obnoxious loud commercials constantly aggravating your senses? Prolonged hours on the internet can cause headaches and effect eyesight from staring into the screen. There is speculation about the effects of excessive cell phone use and its possible damage to the brain from holding it to your ear.

Certain movements have been sparked as a result of the mass media, in cases regarding major news most of the time. For example, the O.J.Simpson case and its verdict, The Rodney King trial and its verdict (causing a major riot), the Rowe vs. Wade case, and the case regarding Kalee Anthony. Media transmission from television has been known to create growing trends amongst society in areas of transportation, employment, shopping, and style. Everyone wants the latest Nike shoe, or the new I-Phone.

Then there are the latest styles worn by the actors on TV and in movies, the latest clothes worn by rock stars, or perhaps something political that they may say. Music has been a major influence through mass media to influence the younger generations in their lives. Some effects positive, and some not so good; like the case where two teens committed suicide to a Judas Priest song in 1985, two days before Christmas. Kids and teenagers have been known to mirror mass media tenaciously throughout the early years of life, in a kind of identity search they go through. They may emulate their favorite rap star, movie star, or sports hero. All of this is due to the influence mass media has on them.

Long term effects

It seems now, there is a certain mystery that somewhat ensues following the information sent and received via mass media. Is it true? Could it be fabricated or embellished to reach a planned or desired effect? There are the phrases “Do not believe everything you hear”, or “do not believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see”. Why the reason for these quotes? This is possibly a sociological precaution to be critically aware of what people are exposed to through mass media to such a great extent. Be careful, so to speak. Examine, investigate, and search for the truth in what you are hearing and seeing. It apparently is a prolonged effect from mass media exposure, likened to a state of self-perpetuated enlightenment.

A person can become jaded and melancholy from overexposure to mass media resulting in cynicism and a predisposition to view things in other ways contrary to their usual self. An individual may become detached socially and emotionally as a result from constant computer interfacing or isolation from watching too much television; events a person otherwise would love to be involved with may be missed due to lack of contact with friends and family by sailing down the rabbit hole of mass media through technological vehicles. How about the possibility of global internet communication failure? What would this result in? I am sure it would be gigantic, whatever effect would follow this.

Some long term effects have ignited a new view and awareness on the distraction aspect created by mass media. It can become spell-binding to people, and sometimes people snap out of the spell and question what and why they are doing things a certain way. Some people have rejected mass media and its influence altogether; in an attempt to get back in touch with life in a more action oriented sense. This is usually easier to those who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s when technology was more limited in its transfer of mass media information. The statistics show that Media technology usage is always growing not only with children and youths, but with adults also. (Frank Baker) It is growing, transmitting, and affecting people in the immediate, as well as in the long run. It is used for more reasons than can be said. Always affecting us everywhere we go. Consciously and unconsciously the impact is felt and reverberates through society winding through various different channels creating new effects, influences, and results wherever it goes.

In Retrospect

Mass media is a very useful addition to human existence on earth. It helps people with many things in life, creating more time and convenience in the day. It almost has a life of its own amongst society as they interact with it continually and necessarily. Mass media has come a long way over the last hundred years; all the way from the carted horse and town center speech to the World Wide Web and cable television. It affects everyone one way today, maybe another way the next. It is sure to be around for a long time; it is very well integrated to society globally and entrenched in societies work, entertainment, finance, and education. It can affect people in good and bad ways, sometimes depending on the views the parties involved, but still effected nonetheless. It is up to one to figure out for themselves what they will do with the information from the mass media sources; and be aware of the influences on them and people around them, keeping in mind the effects mass media has, short and long term; always examining and evaluating to assess credibility, accuracy, and influence.


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      IIMMI 19 months ago

      Nice article.

      Ofcourse, it influences the society. Everyone these days are completely dependent on Mass Media & every instrument of communication is become the Mass Media.

      http://iimmieducation.com

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      laina 3 years ago

      great article