The media; it’s something that society accesses and connects with on a daily basis via multiple platforms. As mass media has steadily advanced along with technology, society has given it more power as a controlling force. As new forms of media emerge, so do new anxieties.
Media has grown from a simple communication platform to a multi-faceted one, controlling our access to information and shaping our reactions to it. While society is aware of these effects, this influence still seeps into our interpretations of mass communication. This influence is more of a danger to impressionable audiences, for example children and teenagers, who can be easily swayed by media. Marketers spend the largest percentage of money targeting children, as they are the consumers with the most amount of spending years ahead of them. There has been great controversy about whether fast food advertisements, particularly for McDonald’s, should be restricted during children’s programmes on television, as this was said to be a large contributing factor to levels of obesity in children and adolescents. The naivety associated with young age is often taken advantage of, however is this the responsibility of the media?
As children grow, they learn conventions and patterns of behaviour by emulating the actions of those around them. Thus there is concern that, with a growing exposure to mediums such as televisions and computers, more gullible audiences will replicate negative behaviours learnt from media that could endanger themselves, such as drug-taking or violence. Nevertheless, there is constant debate as to how far the impact of the media extends and where individual accountability steps in.
Modern audiences are far more exposed to different walks of life due to having grown up surrounded by mass media, causing an advanced loss of innocence. There is fear that these audiences will therefore take risks and place themselves in possibly harmful situations without being aware of the consequences; taking action before deciding themselves if it abides by their individual morals. This loss of innocence could also potentially impact on individual characteristics and self-development, causing problems with personal identity. With exposure to thousands of opinions in the media, from newspaper articles to tweets, how do we distinguish our own opinion from what we have been conditioned to think?
On that same note, we must question why society as a whole has such great unease about mass media, or more precisely, its effects. It seems to be the extreme size and spread of the media and the speed and cultivation of messages throughout the world, giving it the power to either link people or divide them. The majority of future depictions of society are dystopian. We are all familiar with the portrayal of a brainwashed contemporary society ruled by technology and media as a dominant force living in a state of perpetual hypnotisation focused on a monitor. The media influences people, yet people make up the media, so what can we, as people, do about it? Hopefully our futures are brighter than our screens.