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Mass media refers to Newspapers, books and magazines (print media) and Radios, movies, music and radio (electronic) and lastly the latest media sensation “computer -mediated communication”. With the rise in media literacy, it has become difficult to restrict the contents that our children are exposed. In trying to come into terms with the above am going to try to evaluate, the sexuality and violence in the media and its impact on the audience, readers or consumers.
Wolf and Kielwasser reports that mass media form a diverse part of our environment. Evidence further suggests that in the United States alone, there are more televisions than indoor plumbing among households (National Institute of Mental Health, 1983, p.23). It was further said that 88,600,000 households owned a television set in American excluding Hawaii and Alaska (Wood head, 1988, p.13).Reports indicate a Great Gross National Product of the American Government coming from the Exchange of information(Berger ,1998, p.319).it is also reported that 99% of all American homes own a radio set(Bell ,188 ,p.4).55 % of the households that own TV set have subscribed to cable television( Nielsen Media Research ,1989 ,p.4).According to (Liebert & Sprafkin ,1988,p.ix),by the time a child reaches 18 years of age it is reported that they will have spent a lot of time on TV alone than on any other activity with an exception of sleeping. Penthouse and playboy magazines are the most widely read in and around American campuses. While 15% -25% of all video cassettes distributed in America have sexually explicit contents (Brown, 1988, pp.168-169). (Wolf and Kielwasser 1999, pp.9)
The media has been pointed out, as the major culprit as far as the instigation of ideas related to sex and violence is concerned. Reported have on several that the media namely; Video and Print has greatly poisoned the young generation with contents filled with Sex and violence. Reports indicate that some video games, TV programmes and some printed material have contents that are very detrimental to the young generation since they expose them to Violence and sexually explicit materials. The out come is that most of them end up mimicking what they see on the media. My research paper covers for sections .The first will looks at the theories attributed to the media sexuality and violence. The second being on how violence in the media has influenced both the children and adults in American either directly or indirectly. Long term or short term.
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Neelum Hussain and Nasrene Shar is quoted to have said the media are a “Tool for the production and Dissemination of ideologies that, of necessity, serves the interests of the groups or class that exercises economic and relations within a given social formation”. The argument is that the media favors the men over women; Men are portrayed as superior to the women. (Cuklanz, Moorti 2009, 68)
The second section talks about how sex in the media has influenced the American population especially the teens, this will look at the correlation between the sexual material portrayed in the media and how the teens behave. The last section talks about legislations recommendations in regulate the violence and sex portrayed in the media. They include legislations such as programmes and movie ratings’-General viewing, D –suggestive dialogue, PG- parental Guidance and many more.
It is prudent to note that the media has either influenced directly on indirectly on the masses. Directly in that after witnessing programmes on violence and sex on TV, the masses end up doing what they saw in the media. This consequently erodes the moral fiber.According to Briere 1986, PP 75-92, “Two streams of current research are relevant to the model, the first shows connections between exposure to sexually violent media and the development of thought patterns that support violence against women. The second reveals links between such patterns and various forms of antisocial behavior in the laboratory and in naturalistic settings” (Malamute and Briere 1986, PP 75-92)
Theories on sex and violence in the media.
According to recent researches there arises three theories concerning the media sexuality and violence, (i) Through out the media man is always portrayed as the sexual violators of women(Smith ,1976 a,b).Smith argues in this theory that man has always been portrayer as the offender as far as sexual violence is concerned. Men are portrayed as monsters, they let there libido lead them into raping or sexually assaulting the female. Reports asserted that incase of nonsexual violence portrayal the man is always the victim (Gerbner, 1972).Gerbner argues that non-sexual violence in the media portrays the woman as victim while at this point the woman reins superiority over the situation.
(ii)In the second theory, reports indicate that media sexual violence surpasses no sexual violence in the past fifteen years. Reports also indicate that Magazine portray the list cases of media violence with 5% ,Movies about 15% ,While books with adult contents are said to be the most affect with about 30%(Gerbner ,Gross ,Morgan ,and Signorelli ,1980).
(iii)The long term effects of watching violence related programmes on Television has been viewed as a threat on post civil liberties and freedom by the Cultivation theorists. This theory argues that people who watch more Television related violence programmes are at a higher risk of being involved in violence that their counter parts who watch less of the Violence related TV programmes. Arguments further assert that those who watch a lot of violence related Television programmes. They tend to be alienated and always become gloomy (Gerbner etal .2002).This continued watching of Aggression programmes, may pre –expose the audience to an erosion of his or her liberty .They may be easily fooled into accepting and believing what they see on Television (Signorielli 2005, PP 48)
Media Impact and Its Magnitude
It also reported through different researches that media violence has three impacts on the population. i) It is inconsequential and both children and adults are not affected by the images they view on TV (Fowles 1999).Fowles argues that the media images be it on sexuality or violence, have no implication or any sought on the viewer either Adult or Child.
2) Media violence will only affect a number of people during sometime and not all the people at all time (Potter 2003).Potter on the other hand argues that the media impact varies, he adds that where as the images in the media may affect the viewers at some point it is not always the same in every case.
Finally, it will always influence negatively on the population. On the contrary, argues assert that the programmes viewed by children on Television have a direct violence impact on them. This argument has only been embraced by the National Coalition on Television Violence who have continually insisted that the programmes screened on TV have a direct impact on the population (Signorielli 2005, PP 46).
The media influence on Violence
Violence is defines by Porter who quotes( Gerbner etal,1978 ,p.179) as “the overt expression of physical force ,without weapon ,against one’s will on pain of being hurt or killed ,or actually hurting or killing”(Potter 2003 ,pp.87 ).
Potter talks of the public opinion poll that revealed how the parents support the fact that the media is full of violence. The disparity however comes in the peoples understanding of violence. What is considered as violence by one group may not be so to another. He adds that despite different people talking about there existing violence in the media, a misconception of what they regard as violence has arisen. Potter uses a table to illustrate his finding on the public opinion poll done to access the presence of violence in the media. “A 1975 Gallup poll found that two thirds of Americans found the present level of violence programming unacceptable (cooper, 1996).A 1992 association Press poll found that 82% of Americans feel that movies are too violent (O’Donnell, 1992). A 1993 Poll ,70% of American feel that entertainment TV has too much violence, and 57% think that TV news gives too much attention to stories about violence crime(Galloway’s ,1993)”.(Potter 2003 pp. 84-85)
Reports indicate that the actual experiment to ascertain the effects of media violence on the masses has been wanting. Reports indicate that media violence has fueled a “Catharsis” effect on the viewers or audience. By viewing media related violence one is able to satisfy whatever violence motives they had in themselves. Research revealed that exposure to explicit material does evoke a feeling of arousal in various degrees between both male and female. This mostly affected sexually experiences nonreligious persons with a college education (Rist, 1974, 234-236).
The Media influence on the teen’s sexual culture.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, .Teen sexuality has become public health concern with major implications. These ranges from activities that pre-expose the teens to sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy and exposure to the risks of HIV/AIDS. These have greatly affected them both emotionally and physically. Reports indicate that the percentage of sexually active teenagers that contract sexually transmitted disease stand at 25% annually. Reports further assert that most teenagers have forceful sex at their first encounter.Villaruel reports that the media contributes to the sexual behavior of teenagers. Through the portrayal of casual sexual activities as having no consequences, the teenagers attempt to experience it for themselves (Hart 2002, pp .4).
The American Academy of Pediatrics further argues that despite the parents attempt at promoting sex education. Through advocating for the use of condoms and abstinence, the media has continually rendered the parents efforts fruitless. The explicit content that is both aired and written in the media exposes then teenagers to more sexuality than the parents can comprehend. Funny enough is that some of these explicit media materials do not put into consideration any health education, personal responsibility and health risks involved in sex.According to (Polce-Lynch), the portrayal of negative body images by the media will greatly influence both psychological and physical well being of the teenagers. Field et al on the other hand report that the media portrayal of some bodies as attractive may prompt the teenagers to adopt some new eating habits to gain the desired body size considered sexy. Johnson 10 argues that despite the society and family being the socialization agents, this has shifted has in the modern world the media has overtaken the family and society. The teenagers copy other cultural norms, dressing styles, body types from the media (Hart 2002, pp .5, 6).
Ward argues that the mass media can either evoke a new way of thinking or reinforce norms as far as thinking is concerned. Contents from the media that depict stereotypes, sexual roles or double standards may influence the teenagers profoundly on body image; social norms and sex.Research indicate that most teenagers seek sexual and social information from the media instead of their parents. Teenagers also tend to get attracted more to explicit media contents. According to (Greenburg and Hofschchire 1003-104), Teenagers tend to get more attracted to sex contents in the media. The adult teens also prefer programmes with sexual; content on Television. More teenage girls consider the media as a tutor into their sexual orientation and fashion (Hart 2002, pp .5, 6).
Since the media has inevitably become part of our environment, it has thus become a burden to bear. Reports indicate that the media in “the mother of all evils”, It is high time the government came up with legislation that strictly rate the programmes aired through the media while putting into consideration the media liberty and its role as “the voice of the voiceless”. The rating and monitoring of all programmes aired on our televisions and printed in the print media should adhere. Clear definition of what violence is and its elements that may influence negatively on the population should be clear-cut.
The computer error is yet another part of the media that has been attributer to exposing the masses to sex and violence material. The internet which has unlimited access to all sought of material is an avenue to sexual material infiltration into the society. Reports indicate that the internet has become a necessity in every household with millions of people world over owning a full-connected computer to the internet.
Computer games are yet another media through which violence is portrayed with games such as mortal combat, grand theft and the like. Our young brothers and sisters have become absorbed into the “virtual world” of violence .A factor that has greatly influenced their socialization with the rest of the world.
According to Okoronkwo, the youths should adopt the following mechanisms, to try to counter the effects of media influence on them. It is reported severally that an “idle mind is the Devils workshop”. He suggests that people should keep themselves pure, avoid exposing themselves to illicit materials, keep there mind pre-occupied by other activities such as sports ,Engage the parents in discussion pertaining to their sexuality and finally keep you heart Godly he quotes David: “l have hidden your word in my heart that l may not seen against you.”(Psalm 119:11).The above are said to keep ones “heart, body and soul at peace” (Okoronkwo 2005.41-42).
In conclusion, the media has been portrayed has the instrument through which most teenager become socialized. Some of them also discover the sexuality through the media. It has however been implicated to influence mostly the teens negatively through the sexual and violent images. This can be cubed however through the integrated efforts of the media itself, the family and the government.