Media have been around in various forms for hundreds and hundreds of years, but with the emergence and interest in mass media, has the American society let it take control of their lives? Mass media started off in the form on newspapers and magazines and have transformed into televisions, cellphones, and applications, creating a whole new form of communication that society was not prepared to take control of. Mass media have increased remarkably in the past century and with that American values and the development of society has declined. Media have created a plethora of resources that were made easily available to the public, however it brought upon society many evils in which no one knew how to grab a hold of.
The values of the American society are influenced by many factors including location, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and even people’s personalities; however, mass media is molding numerous values brought by many cultures around the world into one. With so many views, considerations, and scenarios, it has become easier to answer each with a black and white minded solution. A talk show, which discusses various relatable issues, takes a black and white approach in solving these issues; for example,
To attract viewers, these shows focus on the bizarre and promote a distorted view of what it means to be ‘normal.’ They offer unrealistically simple solutions to complex problems, dispense dangerous advice and ignore the off-camera consequences for guests who have been encouraged to ‘courageously’ reveal deeply personal aspects of their lives. (Winnail, 2015)
With so many viewers, these talk shows will say anything that satisfies their customers, or they will attempt to find a medium in which all parties can relate to in order to keep views high and keep money rolling in, rather than focusing on influencing behavior that will lead viewers in making the right decisions. All television shows, movies, and radios depend on viewers to make their money, therefore, they take any measure to attract the attention of the general public. All these shows are unknowing of the incredible influence that they are on children. According to Krantz-Kent (2018), “In the 2013–17 period, the U.S. civilian noninstitutional population ages 15 and older spent an average of 2 hours 46 minutes per day watching TV.” A small amount of time spent on television may be used for entertainment and humor, but if watching television is done excessively, children become influenced by the actions on TV that were used to attract their attention often by sex or violence related advertisements, devaluing the issue of both, which
creates a form of beliefs about sex and violence that may often entail issues. If the programs are providing television for the purpose of gaining views and making a profit rather than the benefit of providing television whose purpose is to educate, there is no doubt that these characters on the TV are influencing a tolerance for such unjust actions and values to the public while playing a major role in the development of society’s morals and communication style.
Today’s media focuses on the ideology that “If it feels good, do it.” This means that the media is telling the public to overlook consequences when it comes to making themselves “happy” because oneself must be prioritized above all else. With this being the ideology of so many people, chaos follows due to a desire for short-term happiness and an over-looking of long-term consequences. If American society starts looking at the long-term consequences that television does not envision, rather than being blindsided by the desires it offers, then society’s values would not be in jeopardy. Unfortunately, that is not the case. For example, social media was designed for the purpose of sharing our photos, beliefs, and experiences with the world. Social media can be a place where strangers often influence others. There are so many opinions shared, that most people, whose values are undecided, are influenced by the opinions that benefit themselves most, such as “if it feels good, do it.”
Moving forward, media have caused the attention span of the average to decrease substantially. The attention span of the average person is down to eight seconds according to McSpadden (2015). An attention span means is the amount of time we are able to put our full attention onto something. This has dropped down so low creating difficulties studying and carrying out other tasks. For example, “students today … struggle with reading and writing assignments, exhibit less creativity, are easily bored and distracted, lack perseverance, give up easily and have difficulty remembering instructions and thinking through problems.” This drop in attention span creates issues that may seem subtle in an individual, but with the widespread drop, society takes a step back in student’s learning abilities. This attention span is the effect of watching too much TV. According to Winnail (2015).
The internal structure of the brain is modified by how it is used. Visual experiences register primarily in the right side of the brain. Language and reading exercises are focused in the left side of the brain. When children watch television several hours a day (where little conversation or thinking is involved) and read only 5–10 minutes a day, experts fear a detrimental effect on brain development. Since reading and watching television make very different demands on the brain, extensive television viewing could ‘reduce stimulation to left-hemisphere systems critical for development of language, reading, and analytical skills… may affect mental ability and attention by diminishing mental traffic between hemispheres… may discourage development of ‘executive’ systems that regulate attention, organization and motivation.
This change in how society is formatting its thinking is not only hurting its own generations, but all the generations that follow in two ways. The first is that it is creating a society whose main leisure activity is watching TV, which provides no benefits compared to reading a book or
The negative effects of media have not only been studied, but majority of the population believe that the values of the American society have declined as well. According to Balan (2011), “74 percent of Americans believe the nation’s moral values have declined over the past twenty years, and large majorities hold the media responsible for contributing to that decline.” Along with that, many hold Hollywood responsible as its productions create the culture of America. Again Balan (2011) shows that, “The media are undermining America’s sense of personal responsibility. The more a person watches television, the less likely he will be to accept responsibility for his own life and for his obligations to the people around him.” Mass media has allowed for this to happen as it shows there are a various amount of factors that influence a various amount elements or situations, that it becomes very easy to place the blame on an outside source removing blame from oneself in order to eliminate guilt.