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The Effects of the Mass Media on Society

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The Effects of the Mass Media on Society
14.07.2020
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Abstract

The development of the mass media left its mark on the evolution of humanity. The contemporary world both benefits and suffers from the impact of the mass media, which has a transformational effect on society in general. Globalization and the mass media led to the establishment of various phenomena involving people from the most remote parts of the world. In fact, the mass media raises social awareness on the latest events happening across the world, attracts consumers to try new products and services, and affects the development of youth. The discussion analyzes every sphere of the mass media’s influence, according to the literature review accumulating valuable information from the studies conducted by respected authors. It becomes questionable whether the mass media gives the humanity advantage or not, which encourages considering whether it is a curse or a blessing of a digital era.

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A Review of the Literature Mass Media and Society

Every society has to face cultural changes on a regular basis due to the transformation of needs, values and beliefs of people. The mass media became the source of information gathered across the globe, precipitating a significant impact of globalization on every country. In fact, the idea lies in shaping a specific way of thinking, which may become commonly shared by people from different cultural backgrounds in several years. Due to the rapid development of technologies and social transformation occurring in the digital era, it is efficient to consider the impact of the mass media on the worldview of millions of people facing the influence of TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet. Social networks require precise consideration in order to understand the impact of virtual communication on the behavioral patterns and self-image of people actively using the newly generated communication options. The impact of the mass media is so large-scale that it requires consideration of different spheres of life in order to see the consequences of technological breakthrough, including social change, consumer behavior, and youth development. The literature review considers whether the mass media has a positive or negative effect on the development of social needs, values, and beliefs, which play a major role in shaping cultural peculiarities, by answering the following questions:

1. What is the role of the mass media in social change on the global level?

2. In what way are people dependent on the mass media, as a mediator of consumer behavior?

3. What is the impact of the mass media on the development of youth?

A thorough consideration of the mass media’s influence on different aspects of human activity on the global level explains the complexity its impact on society, which leads to the myriad of outcomes faced by all generations.

What Is the Role of the Mass Media in Social Change on the Global Level?

In order to understand the role of the mass media in social change, it is worth imagining the functions of the mass media in life of an ordinary person. Media perform the role of the natural speculum of uniting people within the cross-cultural borders. Today, it is common to meet people from other countries and even continents. In this way, the mass media takes care of expanding the horizons of thinking. It provides people with the new outlook on the lifestyle of developing countries. As a result, people use the mass media as a bridge between different societies with a unique set of customs and traditions, which formulate the essence of culture (Paul, Singh, & John, 2013). For example, the development of the mass media contributed to the influence of the West World on other countries by sharing the unique worldview and lifestyle. Another aspect of the mass media’s function is associated with the regulation of people’s focus. It is common to see people focusing their attention on favorite TV shows, particular magazines, newspapers, and radio programs. The mass media became a highly informative source, which raises the awareness of people not only of the global issues but also topics of interest. It became useful for people to enjoy the informational flow originating in the mass media, which helps to generate new aspirations and goals. In this way, the mass media formulated a transition between traditional society and modern community, which is reliant on the informational coverage of personal activity. Finally, the mass media became the source of innovation. Today, it is the most reliable way for the companies aiming to advertise their products and inform the customers about new services. Informational broadcast became the main technique providing millions of people across the world with the latest trends in any field (Paul, Singh, & John, 2013). In this way, the mass media performs the function of the decision-making platform. It is a strong regulator of personal beliefs, attitudes, and values, which lead to the establishment of a specific opinion. In this way, the mass media continues to contribute to public knowledge by leading a discussion with the target audience on any topic of interest.

The mass media brought the world to the condition of a “global village,” which allows people from the most remote corners across the world to see the latest events happening in each other’s lives. Owing to the mass media, it became possible to imagine the world smaller than it is. For example, a person is able to see a football match between France and another country by sitting in New York or Sydney. People became used to the feeling of being a part of a big crowd, which takes place thousands miles away (Mehraj, Bhat, & Mehraj, 2014). The speed of media is impressive and marvelous, which leads to active exchange of information and global presence of every individual according to their desires. No matter where people go, they see the same advertisements, products, and technologies, which is the result of the massive impact brought by the mass media. According to Mehraj, Bhat, and Mehraj (2014), it is also important to remember about the mass media’s role in promoting the distribution of goods and entertaining the public. These two areas of the mass media’s activity have a myriad of ways of influencing society in both positive and negative ways. As long as the mass media is a result of human activity, it is obvious that the audience may accept some information, while another piece of information will lead to a wave of indignation. It happens due to cultural differences, which still reflect the perception of the information circulating across the world. However, people start mingling in a single culture day after day, which is the result of globalization.

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The intercultural communication also lies within the scope of the mass media’s impact on social transformation. According to Chen (2012), traditions and innovations co-existed in a harmonious system of interactions before the rapid development of the mass media. However, the contemporary mass media alienated traditional values from the cultural values different nations share with each other. As a result, the mass media led to the establishment of the cultural gap, which impedes understanding between different generations originating in the same culture. For example, it is common to see the conflict between the contemporary youth and elderly people born in the 20th century due to the inability to understand each other’s values (Chen, 2012). The mass media became a threat to intercultural communication as long as it brought chaos in the relations of people willing to follow new customs and traditions. As a result, the impact of national culture on the development of new media sources is not as enormous as the influence of new media on cultural identity. In general, the intercultural exchange fostered by the rapid development of the mass media led to the emergence of intercultural conflicts due to the distorted perception of another culture. Unfortunately, this phenomenon takes place not only at the level of the mass media audience but also at the level of politics, which causes intercultural conflicts.

Today, the mass media regulates intercultural exchange with the help of social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and iPhone applications (Alsubagh, 2015). In this way, people gained an opportunity to represent themselves virtually and stay in connection with their Internet friends from the most remote corners of the world. Owing to the latest opportunities provided by the Internet, the society gained the source of intercultural knowledge. Nevertheless, people may cross the borders of sharing personal information, which harms both intracultural and intercultural communication.

In What Way Are People Dependent on the Mass Media, as a Mediator of Consumer Behavior?

Consumer behavior has emerged through the years of the 21st century owing to active development of technologies. The widespread penetration of the Internet made it possible to stay at home and purchase everything necessary in several clicks. Human nature made it easier to purchase products due to laziness, which encourages people to invent new options of making life easier. An interactive segment of the Internet allows consumers all over the world share their shopping experiences and opinions about the diversity of products and services related to different spheres of life. The goal of the mass media is to encourage consumers to purchase products, which they have never even considered necessary. The most appropriate example of overconsumption involves Internet-based social networks. The entrepreneurs found it effective to create profiles of their companies in Instagram or Facebook, which helps to attract attention of millions of users and provides an opportunity to enter a global arena of business. The following table reflects the percentage of befriended profiles of companies on Facebook, which users found interesting (Aslubagh, 2015).

Table 1

The Percentage of the Befriended Company’s Profiles

Number of Firms/ProductsFrequencyPercentValid PercentCumulative Percent
None3020%2020.00%
1-500%0.020.00%
6-1000%0.020.00%
11-1500%0.020.00%
16-206040%40100.00%
More than 206020%2020.00%
Total150100100.0

The table reveals the truth about Internet-based engine of entrepreneurship, which created the global change in regulating consumer’s behavior. Instagram uses a powerful technique of advertising, which encourages companies to pay for appearing in the recommended posts of millions of users. Companies, in their turn, use Instagram for advertising their products by paying the most followed users for posting a photo with their products. It is a widespread advertising option used by all types of businesses, which is effective enough to encourage consumers to purchase more than they need.

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The image of female body is another trigger, which leads to the reconsideration of consumer behavior. In general, the image of female body started changing from the middle of the 20th century. Today, successful women play a major role in shaping the public image on the perfect parameters of the female body. Unfortunately, the mass media became the source of the distorted image of a female body, which continues to influence females of different ages. There are millions of profiles in social networks, which sell diet products, weight loss programs, and even diet plans. In this way, women tend to follow the commonly accepted image of female body by aiming to be as skinny as possible. It became the problem of the 21st century, which encourages women to spend thousands of dollars on products and services helping to lose weight or take care of personal appearance. The cult of a baby doll has its penetration into every product brought by the mass media. Advertisements and magazine covers develop inferiority complex among women believing that they are not as beautiful as the society is willing to see them (Valkenburg & Peter, 2013). In combination with body dissatisfaction, women willingly agree that their body does not meet the perfect parameters demonstrated by models and successful women. As a result, companies use women’s vulnerability and generate products and services, which could enhance their confidence taking onto account the belief that the new product is a chance to follow the beauty trend from the magazine cover (Van Vonderen & Kinnally, 2012). In general, a distorted image of the perfect female body creates a negative impact on males. Men tend to believe that skinny women will help them to accomplish their life goals, according to the viewpoint shared by the mass media. It leads to the obsession with a perfect body image, which ruins the worldview and psychological balance of millions of people across the world.

Finally, advertising has the most powerful influence on consumers, regardless of their gender. For example, the presentation of the new iPhone became a phenomenal event, which attracts attention of millions of people across the world. Companies use the mass media to encourage consumers to be the lucky ones who try new products for the first time. As a consequence, people started focusing on products and services, which they did not need several years ago. It does not mean that the mass media has only a negative effect on purchasing decisions of consumers. However, it means that people tend to follow the advice of the mass media rather than think twice before making a purchase. Flashy advertisements successfully meet their primary goal, namely to attract attention of the potential customer. As soon as consumers start thinking about the new product, they formulate a specific attitude, which consequently encourages them to purchase the latest product. Overconsumption became a disease, which spreads by means of the mass media at a rapid pace. People do not notice changes in their behavioral patterns as long as TV, radio, and magazines make personal transformation of every individual natural and flawless. In this way, people generate the most unusual desires, leading them to the purchase of products they have never needed before. Nevertheless, if the mass media sources refused to advertise products and services, it would be expectable to see the downfall of many economies due to the reduced purchase of products and services, which used to support the productivity of business.

What Is the Impact of the Mass Media on the Development of Youth?

Youth is one of the target audiences of the mass media who actively use social networks for communication. Social networks also offer different information, which lies within the interests of the contemporary youth. Unfortunately, continuous usage of social networks leads to the negative tendencies in academic achievements of teenagers. The contemporary educational institutions still offer students various activities, which raise their skills and knowledge. However, activities taking place outside of the classroom do not generate a positive impact on academic success. Students tend to procrastinate and delay performing their tasks due to excessive time spent in the social networks. In addition, TV shows and fresh magazine issues often distract students from spending enough time to do homework. According to Ahn (2011), the mass media established a negative connection between student’s activity outside the classroom and activities taken in the class. Nevertheless, it is possible to see the potential positive impact of the mass media on the development of youth in general. Owing to teenagers’ active usage of the Internet and social networks in particular, it should be easier for youth to collect and analyze information. Quick navigation through informational sources is beneficial for writing essays and preparing for the lectures. Youth shows outstanding willingness to take advantage of the use of the latest technologies for active exchange of information from the mass media sources. In this way, many students learned how to use social networking for personal progress in the academic success. However, educational institutions still have to learn how to foster academic success of students by using their favorite means of communication (Ahn, 2011). It is possible to outline three goals of the educational sector, which lies within the scope of the mass media aimed at improving the academic success of students. First, it is necessary to start using social networks for educational means. For example, a teacher may create a profile, which will share valuable links with students by helping them to complete their homework. Secondly, it is important to contribute to the establishment of a strong virtual academic culture. An online-based community uniting students from the same school or college is the most appropriate way to involve students in active exchange of experiences and knowledge. Finally, the proposed solutions will motivate students to engage in learning and informational behaviors, leading to the enhancement of their academic achievements. In this way, the mass media will have a significant positive impact on youth in educational terms. Otherwise, social networks and Internet-based entertainment options will continue to distract youth from the learning process.

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The mass media also has a significant effect on the behavioral patterns of youth. Movies, books, music videos, and even magazine articles lead to the most unexpected modes of behavior among teenagers and emerging adolescents. As long as the presence of the mass media has a large-scale character, it is unavoidable to face the transformation of the behavioral patterns shared by youth. The digital era made it easy for every Internet user to access any website with the content, which may have a destructive force on the worldview of children and teenagers. In particular, the spread of pornography within the borders of Internet made far-reaching effects on the behavior of youth. Sex and sexuality do not have a private character, as they used to have. The contemporary society finds it natural to emphasize human sexuality and attractiveness, which finds its refection in every advertisement and movie (Cloete, 2012). Many teenagers found it natural to record their sexual intercourse and sell videos as pornography products. It is the most disappointing effect of the mass media, which led to inappropriate behavior of youth. Being desensitized to sex-related issues, youth does not have enough sexual education due to the accessibility of pornography, which prevents from healthy perception of sexuality (Cloete, 2012). Media and youth have a deep connection guiding teenagers through the contemporary society by introducing the latest trends in values, norms, and beliefs. The mass media helps teenagers to find their path in the world full of different paths, which seem to be attractive and appealing. The problem associated with the mass media is that teenagers see it as a guide in experiencing new feelings and emotions in their physical, psychological, and spiritual transformation. Sexual development represents an area of outstanding interest for teenagers who do not know how to respond to the changes in their body. Many families are not willing to raise the topic of sex and sexuality as long as they had a divergent approach towards upbringing, which found it inappropriate to talk about aspects of private life of every person. Today, teenagers willingly search for answers in the mass media, which uses their interest from the point of economic benefits by neglecting the sacred human needs. The absence of alternative choices helping youth to undergo the developmental stages leads to the selection of the mass media as the only source raising sexual education of every teenager in intolerant way. If parents do not feel comfortable to speak to their children about sex, the mass media will do that in the most straightforward and destructive way. In this way, people hardly consider the consequences of unethical sexual education of the younger generation.

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