A lot of times when most individuals mention or rather talk about media, they are usually referring to three areas of the field. The commonly referred to areas of media are television, radio and print media. However, this field of study usually comprises of much more than just these traditional areas of the field. Most people do not share of the opinion that even cinema is part of media even though it is a major part of the degree course program. Other new areas like the internet too are also beginning to be popular in the academic world.
Sociology base courses e.g. media and society always seems to focus their studies more towards the social influences and importance of various kinds of media. Media therefore has proved to be a major part of our current lives with quite a number of positive effects and negative as well. The bottom line though is that, how different kinds of media impact on you all depends on what you decide to consume and what not to.
Media is usually described in terms of its producers, institutions, audiences and output. Most media users e.g. television viewers, are frequently found watching news which just like other programs such as documentaries or dramas, have become part of the daily output of the media. In many cases, various related domains of the media industry work to create and represent cultures in our society that may be either useful to or undermining certain groups in the society.Over the last couple of years, the media has become part of our daily lives, impacting on us both positively and negatively, I therefore believe that, to curb the negative effects of the media, the government should put more restrictions on the media to protect the public from some of these social ills that they present. In this paper therefore I am going to look at the reasons why the government should implement some control measures on the media.
The current world that we are living in today is saturated by media. The most unfortunate thing about this is the fact that the contents that the children and the youths are exposed to have a very high chance of impacting on them negatively. Research shows that most young people have a tendency of imitating or copying what they see on the media being done by their role models (Kirsh, 2010). A lot of the young people always try to look as fashionable as their favorite movie and music stars, copy the hairstyles they see on the television sported by their role models, and at times even feel like copying the stunts they see on films. This therefore confirms the fact that the media has a great influence on the youths and children in our society. Research also shows that these groups are the most vulnerable to the negative influence of media (Kirsh, 2010). The media has a tendency to hype some of the most visible attributes of the celebrities as they normally refer to them. Some of the socially and morally unattractive things about these celebrities together with the controversies surrounding their lives are frequently discussed by the media personalities. The sad truth is that this hype usually has negative impacts on our society since the masses are known to concentrate only on the negative stories surrounding the celebrities (Kirsh, 2010).
The negative influence of media on the young ones is normally evident on the way their mentalities change regarding different issues in the society as well as the declining quality of their lifestyles. Instead of them spending some quality time on their studies, playing outdoor games and participating in social activities they are usually seen most of the time playing video games and if not that, they are glued to their television sets (Kirsh, 2010). As a result of this they are usually caught up with physical challenges e.g. eye problems and obesity which is usually due to the much time one spends watching the TV and computer surfing the internet.
It is important to mention also that media has negative impacts on the psychological well-being of the young people in our society today. The media always has a tendency of changing people’s perspectives towards life. In this way it has managed to change the moral and cultural values that define our society since many people seem to believe and imitate what they see on the media and take all of it as the truth. Currently research and documented records show that the rate of teenage pre-marital sex and pregnancies are on an alarming increase (Kirsh, 2010). The worst part is that these young people engaging in premarital sex are largely exposed to sexually transmitted diseases. This kind of behavior that is a trend today is largely as a result of the media influence. A lot of TV programs today involve a lot of careless sexual behaviors and the young people seem to be influenced into these kinds of behaviors as a result (Kirsh, 2010).
In the audio and visual media, programs have been aired targeting women and done by women. These programs are usually mainly directed towards those in the rural setups with emphasis put on the woman’s abilities (Klein, 1993). On the other hand, those programs that target the urban population usually involve the working women with emphasis directed towards independence. There are those programs too that are centered on glamour especially in the film industry. Magazines have been found to be the number one culprits when it comes to portraying women as sex symbols. The women in the advertisement industry too have been found to be the number one victims of this exploitation (Klein, 1993). Glamorous ladies have proved to be an essential commodity necessary to promote and market a number of goods e.g. household appliances, vehicles, electronic gadgets and fashion ware. Media houses therefore use women in commercials for sports products to increase sales. It is important to note that the media has a very important responsibility to play in shaping the common sense of the members of the public (Klein, 1993). The media is considered as a very vital player in the push towards maintaining and reproducing culture. For example, the latest surge of media portraying women as sport lovers suggests a change in attitude, as many women buy sports products (Wearden & Creedon, 2003). It would be the wish of most people that this trend would continue for the sake of the women in our society. It is argued that any information that is communicated by the media is very powerful even though it can take an individual time together with much effort to advice the audience appropriately (Tuchman, 1979).
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In today’s world, art has become part of our lives leading to a situation whereby we are all surrounded with funny images. This has gone to an extent whereby art education has been introduced to our schools curriculum. Most art work today e.g. comics and cartoons are done by artists who try to make their work relevant to the diverse cultural practices and social behaviors witnessed all around us (Lee, 2008). The major problem therefore is that most of these artists, especially the comics or cartoonists have seemed to illustrate limited views of women in our society. For a long time now, visual images of women have always illustrated the status of women based on their bodily characteristics and looks. These images that reveal women, both clothed and nude are seen all over and have been common since back in the day, from the traditional Greeks to the Romans and all the way to today. When you take a detailed and critical feminist study of various art work e.g. films, you will definitely discover that women have been presented as objects to satisfy the male gaze needs (Lee, 2008). Some films portray women as weak sex and that when one is beaten by a male partner then that’s a sign of passion (Hagedorn, 1994). A lot of commercials today on both print and electronic media show women caressing objects, posing behind men or animals, and making movements that are suggestive. These kinds of images and messages communicated by the media in form of advertisements have also been portrayed by the comics. They have represented women’s body parts in a way that suggests they are instruments. Researcher argue that if the media can not use its influential power to assist in changing the society, then the journey towards liberation might be even be longer. They believe that its time they changed their tactics (Lee, 2008). For this reason I am greatly convinced that it is time for the government to come in and control the negative influence of the media.
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Complement must always be given where it’s due, e.g. initially, in most parts of Europe and America, the role of women in comical artistry was more to do with romance and domestic issues that surrounded their lives. They were presented in supporting roles to men (Alat, 2007). With time this has changed as a result of the social and political revolution that women had actively campaigned for. New roles therefore have been created for women and depicted in these comical works. Before, a lot of comical work was drawn by men showing women as being weak, fearful and those that deserved sympathy. Images were later on drawn that show working women that were independent of their husbands and fathers. It was only during the Second World War that comics started making artistic works that showed women in the military and daring roles (Klein, 1993). It is important to recognize some of the changes that have been experienced in various regions, but the truth is that it is still not enough; more still has to be done to completely save the situation.
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Media is one of the few major avenues through which social and political change can be implemented in our society today. It can be a very vital tool necessary to create awareness of various social ills that affect our society today and communicate the various ways of dealing with or tackling these issues (Tuchman, 1979). It is therefore very necessary to ensure that the common man is empowered and at the same time, certain discriminated groups of our society are accorded their rights equally.
Just as many people recognize the fact that the media has a great role to play in changing our way of thinking and perceptions, it is important for the media to be more gender sensitive (Tuchman, 1979). This can be done by substituting those feminists programs with those that portray women in a more balanced role. To achieve this, women need to be more involved in the decision making process.
The media should be more involved in teaching moral and social values to the society instead of polluting these standards that have been set by our society to enhance good behavior and healthy living. I therefore strongly believe that to achieve this, the government’s intervention is very necessary to assist in mediation. By controlling the contents of the media, the government can ensure that what we are exposed to are things that are morally upright and has the ability to enhance social and political development. If the current trend continues then the future seems to be bleak for our future generations.