Positive and the Negative Influences of Mass Media

Positive and the Negative Influences of Mass Media




Positive and the Negative Influences of Mass Media

Over the years, mass media has evolved from being a primary tool for advertising into a powerful instrument that has significant economic and social consequences. This change was mostly promoted by the advancement in printing technology as well as the development of sophisticated distribution methods. The improvement of mobile phone technology and the sharp drop in their prices was another significant change in the mass media milieu that greatly transformed the significance of mass media. Among the youth of the current generation, mass media represents a different phenomenon altogether. This paper is concerned with evaluating the positive and negative effects of mass media, particularly on the adolescent generation.

Before delving into the negative and positive influences of mass media on the adolescent generation, it is important to note that mass media plays the three roles of offering news about different events, entertainment, and sensitization. In the information age, accessing news is an important function of mass media, one that is heavily subscribed by the majority of the population (Sparks, 2015). Ordinarily, the news covers a wide variety of topics including medicine, economics, education, culture and more. Concerning the role of sensitization, mass media has an equally wide range of educational programs of which news is one. However, the role of entertainment is the most influential one in mass media as far as the adolescent generation is concerned.

The main reason for the strong influence is that adolescents place their trust on different media channels based on their power to disseminate emerging news and offer different types of entertainment (Preiss, 2007). Conversely, mass media is fully aware of the effect that they have on adolescents and the rest of society. In fact, the stakeholders within the sector are heavily invested in maintaining the influence as this facilitates increased profits as well as popularity. This section covers the positive effects of mass media on the youth.

Positive Influences

The different forms of mass media are a powerful tool for instruction and cultural sensitization. As mentioned earlier, mass media is responsible for disseminating news and other forms of information that can be useful for adolescents. Watching TV programs that have been designed specifically for learning purposes such as The Story of Math, Brain Games, and Particle Fever shapes teenager’s abilities and increases their understanding of racial differences, collaboration, social skills, fundamental arithmetic, and relationships. A significant number of public programs expose teenagers to different events and locations across the worlds including stadiums, libraries, conservatories, and entertainment sites such as arcades. Apart from exposing the young minds to a new universe, they are influential teaching devices. Television, the internet, magazines and other forms of media have the potential of enhancing the reading and writing skills of its users (Preiss, 2007). In remote or less developed areas, controlled television has been recognized as an acceptable teaching tool.

Adolescents are exposed to various school programs that endorse increased reliance on mass media. They offer students a better understanding of the social and economic influence of mass media. In the United States, different stakeholders including television networks, media houses, publishers, and education administrators have developed excellent learning resources that are implemented in the classroom to improve media literacy. This is the foundation of e-learning (Perse, 2016). This learning solution has helped many students in remote areas understand the role of media in education. Digital formats of instruction are all-inclusive, updated, and designed to work in specific contexts. Parental involvement in selecting the best digital programs is the best choice. Parents have to supervise and administer their children’s consumption of digital content.

The rapid popularity of media across different regions in the world facilitates quick and easy access to information. Thanks to internet technology, almost all teenagers can access to information from every location in the globe (Perse, 2016). Technological advancement ensures that mass media is not restricted to urban areas. It has become an integral part of most adolescents’ lifestyles that it would be impossible to detach them from their different devices. Additionally, mass media is responsible for creating numerous employment opportunities, new careers and the development of new sectors. Some of the lucrative jobs include newscasters, composers, designers, technicians, and engineers among other jobs.

Negative Influences

One of the massive negative influences of mass media on adolescents is the corruption of sexuality and the introduction of deviant sexual behavior. Among the current generation, mass media is the leading sex educator having surpassed parental guidance and schools. Over two decades, there has been a sharp increase in sexual content in popular media to the extent that teenagers are forced to create their perceptions. The media exposes adolescents to diverse sexual behaviors in a manner that paints sex as an ordinary and harmless, portraying act as very frequent and devoid of consequences (Perse, 2016). In the mass media, content with sexual contact between unmarried partners is illustrated at a higher frequency compared to sex within marriage. Such irresponsible sexual behavior among adolescents exposes them to various sexually transmitted infections, unnecessary pregnancy, and disruption of the traditional education process. Teenagers depend almost entirely on mass media as a source of information about sexual activity and to a limited extent, sex education programs within the school. Several studies document adolescents’ vulnerability to the impact of mass media influence on their sexual behavior, values, and viewpoints. Conversely, mass media has also been lauded as an influential tool for behavior change. Various organizations have exploited the popularity of the internet, television, and print media to further their cause. In the past, television has been used to promote campaigns that endorse safe sex, healthy relationships, and life choices. The effectiveness of these promotion campaigns has led many to believe that mass media can change adolescent’s sexual attitudes through showing birth control, such as condom use.

Another negative influence of mass media is increased violent tendencies. The amount of violence contained within the common media forms such as television and the Internet is constantly increasing (Perse, 2016). The ease of accessing programs such as wrestling matches, mixed martial arts, and horror movies has the effect of desensitizing the young generation. In turn, the youth have a lower tendency to treat their fellow human beings as people with rights. Violence in mass media is directly linked to increased aggressive behavior such as rape and sodomy, bullying and vandalism as well as other destructive behavior. Additionally, violence in television and on the internet is responsible for increased rates of suicide. It is accurate to conclude that accessing violence among teenagers contributes towards physical and psychological harm (Perse, 2016).

While mass media has been cited as an effective tool for instruction purposes, excessive consumption of digital forms of media has a negative effect on the physical and cognitive capabilities among teenagers. For one, it denies them the time for studying and academics. Recent studies have revealed that approximately two hours of regular unsupervised internet consumption by teenagers has a considerable harmful effect on academic productivity, particularly studying (Curran & Gurevitch, 2005). A closely related influence of mass media on teenagers is the adverse physical effects. Teenagers spend an inordinate amount of time and energy browsing the internet on their mobile phones, playing video games on the television and watching endless TV shows. Therefore, many adolescents end up struggling with obesity that is partly caused by an incessant viewing of mass media advertisements of processed foods and the sedentary lifestyle.

In conclusion, adolescents are at a sensitive phase in their lives where they need acceptance and love from their peers as well as success in their education and personal areas. Mass media is responsible for developing the perfect image of prosperous men and women with all the elements of a successful lifestyle as portrayed in the movies and TV is a subconscious method of convincing the public that the path to being successful involves mimicking the choices, lifestyles, and behaviors of popular personalities (Kovács, 2011). There is a strong relationship between mass media and public mentality that influences their brand and product preferences. This influence is subliminal but very strong and has the power to change most of the attitudes and preferences. For instance, mass media can package a specific product or service in a way that can appeal to the public while concealing the disadvantages.



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Curran, J., & Gurevitch, M. (2005). Mass media and society. London: Hodder Arnold.

Kovács, H. V. (2011). Mass media: Coverage, objectivity, and changes. Hauppauge, N.Y: Nova Science Publisher’s, Inc.

Perse, E. M. (2016). Media effects and society. Taylor and Francis.

Preiss, R. W. (2007). Mass media effects research: Advances through meta-analysis. Mahwah, N.J: L. Erlbaum Associates.

Sparks, G. G. (2015). Media effects research: A basic overview. Australia: Wadsworth.

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