Over the last two decades, several major changes have occurred in the media industries that have altered the way in which the media institution operates. Social theorists have always had two distinct visions when it comes to the introduction of new media; one, a utopia where mass media is used to spread ideas and understanding and two, where people use media to transmit only the most vulgar information. Magazines, TV shows, You Tube, Twitter, internet, cell phones, Facebook and My Space are just a few of the many media sources that are used in the twenty-first century.
Billions of people around the world are influenced through the media and what information it gives them. The most major changes of note have been how different communication sources transmit important information, how violence and sex is demonstrated through the media, and the increased role of women as consumers of mass media. On Tuesday January 12th, 2010, a devastating earthquake hit the Caribbean country of Haiti. It destroyed the whole country and left around 239,000 people dead (Zebra Jacque Dawson).
The survivors need medical attention and food in order to thrive. Many large humanitarian organizations are raising money to help the citizens of Haiti restore their country. The media is playing a huge role in helping advertise and raise money for Haiti. The news and television networks such as CNN and CBC have donated their assistance by providing air time to run Haiti relief commercials and also air “Hope for Haiti” programs where celebrities contribute their talents to raise money towards rebuilding the country.
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During this show audience embers could call in, donate online or send a simple text message to make a contribution. Through this one event, the media used three sources very efficiently and it demonstrates how much technology has advanced to mobilize action. According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s Government statistics “Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. ” These rates were high even before the earthquake occurred, and after the disaster, this rate has increased plunging even more people into poverty.
It is somewhat ironic that this tragic event has led some people to think of it in two ways, either as a tragic misfortune or an opportunity to rebuild and make the country of Haiti a better community than it was before the quake. There is hope that all the relief efforts in support of Haiti, will allow the poverty rate to decrease and stimulate the economy of Haiti for its citizens. This has been a great cause to make people aware of their surroundings. This event shows positive aspects and it portrays the media as a profound and legitimate source.
But the mass media also takes its toll on young adults in a negative way as they are influenced by drugs, sex, alcohol, violence and body image. The average youth in the United States watches television 25 hours a week and plays computer games an additional 7 hours as well also listens to music around 10 extra hours (Facts and TV Statistics). Forty-two hours out of the 168 hours is used up on their computers, television or iPod which means 25% of their time is spent on these products.
Concerns of parents are increasing as they worry that their teenaged children are being negatively influenced by television and music. In a sample of programming from the 2001-2002 TV seasons, sexual content appeared in 64% of all TV programs. Those programs with sexually related material had an average of 4. 4 scenes per hour. One out of every seven programs includes a portrayal of sexual intercourse (Facts and TV Statistics). These statistics are at an all time high. Sex, drugs and violence displayed on television is influenced more than ever on teenagers through the media.
As these stats show, 46% of high school students in the United States have had sexual intercourse. Although sex is common, most sexually active teens wish they had waited longer to have sex, which suggest that sex is occurring before youths are prepared for its consequences (Facts and TV Statistics). Though music, many artists are portraying the themes of violence and drugs. According to Stats Canada, there were 2,452,787 violent and gang related crimes reported in 2006; most of the users of these illegal firearms are youth in their teens and early 20s.
Therefore, drugs, sex, and violence portrayed through the media is sending mixed messages to teens all around the world. Dieting, eating disorders and plastic surgery are some of the ways women try and boost their self esteem. Women are told by the media that they need to be sexy, chic, and thin. Toy manufacturers set this expectation by developing and marketing the Barbie doll, whose measurements are almost impossible. However, with increased availability of plastic surgery, today’s women are faced with unrealistic expectations every time they open a fashion magazine.
Celebrities are not perfect they have their flaws as well. Usually when celebrities are photographed for covers of magazines the reality is that most magazines airbrush photos and use expensive computer technology to correct blemishes and hide figure flaws. Twenty-five years ago, the average fashion model was 8% thinner than the average woman. Today that number has risen to 23% (Food and Weight Preoccupations). Such celebrities such as Pamela Anderson and Heidi Montag have resulted in plastic surgery.
Nearly 12 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2007 (Description of Plastic Surgery). Furthermore, appetite suppressants and meal replacements have become a multi million dollar business. These products are essentially the first stepping stone to eating disorders. Mary-Kate Olsen is one of the many celebrities who have been affected by the disease of anorexia, one of the many eating disorders and these celebrities should not be considered as role models. Women need to have self confidence and need real role models to emulate.
With these messages given to women they are put in a situation where they feel pressure to look or act a certain way. The media is a formidable force, and one that is not going to change easily, but it is a woman’s decision to either be influenced by it or to ignore it and live a healthy lifestyle. There are several negative media effects on teenagers. Media is responsible for creating ideals about body image. The amount of excessive violence in media through television, movies or video games tends to increase aggressive tendencies in teenagers.
The amount of celebrity hype created by the media glorification of unhealthy habits like smoking, drug abuse, unprotected sex and alcohol can encourage these habits in teenagers, which can permanently impact their lives. All of these aspects create social change throughout the world. The most major changes of note have been how different communication sources transmit important information, how violence and sex is demonstrated through the media, and women's increased role as consumers of mass media. Media has also contributed to increase the overall awareness of teenagers about their surroundings.
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