The Media: Image and Reality

Question:

The mass media plays an important role in shaping the opinions and positions of the younger generating. Prove. 
I need the term paper to include 4 articles and 2 books, preferably from JSTOR.

Answer:

Topic: The Media: Image and Reality

The mass media has a tremendous influence on today’s younger generation. The TV, radio, newspapers, and now the internet, are crucial sources of information for these young people. The information obtained in this way goes a long way in influencing younger generation’s opinions and positions. These opinions may range from politics and sports to fashion trends and entertainment. The positions that young people take as a result of mass media influence are normally reflected in their way they dress, speak, and behave in different social contexts. This paper sets out to prove that the mass media is capable of shaping the younger generation’s opinions.

To begin with, the mass media has recorded an astounding success in wooing the younger generation into various fashion trends. The mass media literally sets the pace and standards for which fashions are popular among the youths and which ones are not (Milkie, 1999). The use of celebrities to endorse a wide range of products has worked really well for the mass media. This information reaches millions of young people. For this reason, mass media is arguably the best marketing platform of all time.

Additionally, the mass media strongly influences the political views of young people (Gitlin, 2003). The environment where these people live is full of exposure to news, opinions, analyses, and reviews broadcast either through the traditional media such as TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines or through the internet. With the latest social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, young people are able to mobilize their friends into taking certain political positions in order to achieve the intended objectives.

Apart from politics, the mass media has greatly influenced the sexuality of the younger generation. Today, it is easier than ever before for a young person to learn about sexual life. There is an increase in the number of radio and TV stations that explicitly address the issue of sexuality, with the target audience being the young people (Livingstone, 2002). Some of the information obtained tends to be helpful in their lives. Unfortunately, sometimes the information may be misleading, and this causes youths to engage in sexually irresponsible behaviors. This puts them at a high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases as well as getting unwanted pregnancies.

Indeed, many analysts have blamed the mass media for the emergence of a popular culture that is characterized by glorification of immorality (Jennings & Niemi, 1975). Mass media owners and entertainers stand accused of promoting an immoral culture among the youth and portraying it as popular and socially acceptable. This culture is characterized by drug abuse, violence, and sexual promiscuity. Many children grow up believing that it is a good thing to be violent mainly because of daily exposure to violent TV programs, movies, and video games (Felson, 1996). Others become influenced by music that promotes social ills such as drug abuse at an early age, thereby ending up in drug addiction (Bontinck, 1975).

In conclusion, it is clear that the mass media strongly shapes the opinions and positions of the younger generation. It shapes their understanding of culture, morality, and politics. It influences their social behavior in relation to fashion trends, entertainment, and sexuality. If used properly, the mass media can be a powerful tool for political mobilization of young people in the pursuit of the development agenda. Unfortunately, some media owners misuse the mass media for their selfish commercial interests, largely by promoting socially unacceptable behaviors such as violence, drug abuse, and sexual promiscuity. This tends to have a strong impact on the opinions and social positions of the younger generation.

References

Bontinck, I. (1975) Mass Media and New Types of Youth Music: Methodological and Terminological Problems, International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, 6(1), 47-56.

Felson, R. (1996) Mass Media Effects on Violent Behavior, Annual Review of Sociology, 22(4), 103-128.

Gitlin, T. (2003) The Whole World Is Watching: Mass Media in the Making & Unmaking of the New Left, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Jennings, M. & Niemi, R. (1975) Continuity and Change in Political Orientations: A Longitudinal Study of Two Generations, The American Political Science Review, 69(4), 1316-1335.

Livingstone, S. (2002) Young People and New Media: Childhood and the Changing Media Environment London: Sage Publications.

Milkie, M. (1999) Social Comparisons, Reflected Appraisals, and Mass Media: The Impact of Pervasive Beauty Images on Black and White Girls’ Self-Concepts, Social Psychology Quarterly, 62(2), 190-210.

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