It is an undeniable fact that information is the key to awareness. Certainly, information is power and it grasps the minds of its addressees and at that very moment the process of procession begins. Once you get a piece of news you get to know something new – you become aware of. Nowadays the possibilities to reach information are vast, if not to say boundless. One even doesn’t need to endeavor so much to obtain it, since information is everywhere. It seems to be overwhelming and omnipresent. Apparently, this is hard to argue about. The media provide everyone with news all over the world and perform this function in a very smart way however. Mass media impact on people, moreover on young generation is quite an ambiguous issue that leaves much to be discussed.
The role of mass media and its influential capacity have acquired disputable meanings for the last 50-60 years. Within this time span have taken place the changes tightly connected with and stipulated by the technological progress and all the processes it brought with. Brand-new ideas, novelties, breakthroughs and abundant and affluent flow of gadgets and devices enable the media to broaden their territory of opportunities and conquer more and more new terrains. With the emergence of internet, multimedia facilities and other advanced and progressive human inventions it became easier and more efficient for mass communication to fulfill its key functions – inform and influence. In addition, these key functional priorities of media are always intertwined into the well-knit strategy of skillful persuasion.
It is obvious, people are in extreme need of media as a source of information. By means of television, radio, newspapers, magazines and internet everyone gets abreast of any particular news he or she is interested in or has to know. With the help of mass media each person is able to receive information and then let it be processed by the skeptical wit of his/her own not to be deceived. Indeed, however necessary and indispensible mass media may be for humans it is always appropriate to switch on analytical thinking and along with ‘pros’ to weigh the ‘cons’.
Presumably, the “against” factors will prevail. Everyone’s evaluative and decision-making behavior to a large extent depends on facts he or she has at their disposal. How much credible and irrefutable these facts may be is the question for consideration. In the special focus of attention are young people, teenagers whose disposition and capability of thorough and deep analysis is quite crude and unstable. TV broadcasting network, for instance is supposed to impose much impact on youth through violence and sex images, ‘etalons’ of beauty, inundating advertising. To think only, 95 % of all media space belongs to five grand companies such as Vivendi Universal, Time Warner, Walt Disney, VIACOM and News Corp which monitor and coordinate people through not only television as such (Mass Media Influence on Society). Moreover, they comprise the sphere of entertainment, news broadcasting, programming, even electronic media and software. Hence, they are empowered to model public opinion in general and that of vulnerable youth in particular. Youngsters are very much prone to form their standpoints on the grounds of ads they see on TV, in magazines, internet and elsewhere via media.
“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense” (Gertrude Stein, American writer). Indeed, disagreeable, even staggering incidents take place in result. Young girls obsessed with the modern trend of thinness try to emulate ‘body image’ of models from the TV fashion shows or magazines full of glittering pages with perfect women. Influenced by such imposed tendencies girls find themselves on the edge of suicide. One girl, 24-year-old, wrote: “I had a nose job done, since I thought it was too long. But back then I didn’t consider myself ugly, I was just willing to improve my appearance. Well, after I got the nose job I started hating myself… I broke up with my boyfriend after surgery because I can’t let him see me. I look terrible…I have been having suicide thoughts because of this…I feel very unhappy” (Experience project. June 14th, 2010). Unfortunately, such an example is not a single case of youth’s impaired psyche. According to Sarah Murnen, body-image researcher, “the promotion of the thin, sexy ideal in our culture has created a situation where the majority of girls and women don’t like their bodies” (Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY. Health and behavior. Sept. 25th, 2006). Be it sound response or not, the fact is evident. Notwithstanding, billions of dollars inputs into the market elaborated scheme are aimed to promote goods and foist tastes and preferences on consumers.
Another aspect of media impact is concerned with the display of aggression in life which is supposedly provoked by violence on screen. On the one hand, three are research evidence that prove this correlation. According to Brandon Centerwall, University professor, Washington, a significant leap of murder rate was caused by the penetration of TV sets into North America in 1950s.
Allegedly, there is psychological aftermath of violence in media that is reflected in aggressiveness. If people, especially young ones, undergo violent infliction by means of screen images they become the victims of higher blood pressure or heart rate what may lead to more aggression in life. Some surveys even prove such interdependence by evidence that children exposed to violence in cartoons (Tom and Jerry, Woody Woodpecker etc.) display more aggressive behavioral patterns in life or even after becoming adults (Media issues. Media violence. Media Awareness Network, 2010). On the other hand, some scholars and psychologists claim, that media violence enables children to encounter real world picture of anger, frightening things, awe that people try to avoid, appease and not show (Melanie Moore). So, many men, many minds.
After all, these are just very few of the exemplifiers to demonstrate what a negative role mass communication may play in the lives of people it is supposed to serve. Thereby, it is of high importance to resort to media literacy, the movement initiated in 1980s-1990s intended to show indignation of all those who do care about the scale of media cruelty, atrocity and mercantilism. Such literacy focuses on the issues referring to and aimed at setting control of televising network and the recipient’s decisions it may arouse, developing and improving analytical and critical thinking when perceiving this or that piece of information and media-provided portrayal of political, economic, social and cultural issues. Thus, mass media must inevitably require much more profound insight into what information source suggests. “Information is not synonymous with knowledge. Information is only data, parts of the whole. Knowledge has a moral imperative to enhance intellectual and spiritual unity.” (Ruth Nanda Anshen, American philosopher, editor and author).