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Debates on Media Effects - Essay Example

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Debates on Media Effects Introduction The media have become one of the most powerful resources man has ever developed. It represents a tool of communication and information which humans have established to enhance and widen human relations and perspectives…
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Debates on Media Effects

With reference to a specific case study, mostly on the use of videogames and its impact on children’s behaviour, an assessment on media effect and influence will be carried out by this essay. Body of the paper The media have various effects on society. In the past 60 years or so, a significant amount of research has been undertaken in order to assess the relationship between the media and the audience in terms of the latter’s behaviour. Much hysteria and concern have been seen among the general population throughout the years have been exhibited based on something they may have watched on television or film (Buckingham, 2003). In 1938, a radio adaptation by Orson Welles of H.G Wells’ science fiction book ‘War of the Worlds’ certainly caused hysteria among the people who believed they were actually being invaded by Martians (Gunter & Harrison, 2013). In the 1950s, American caricatures and comic books have also brought life to violence (Buckingham, 2003). Psychologists have expressed concerns on the addictive impact of TV on passive children; however, other experts have also noted better cognitive development for children exposed to television (Andison, 1977). The effect of the media is therefore difficult to estimate because it is a resource which has to be understood within the context of the larger society. In other words, it is important to expand “the media effects tradition to include consideration of normative expectations, institutional performance, constraints and conventions of the media...” (Campbell & Ling, 2009, p. 592). Leading into the 1930s, the media impact has been acknowledged as significant. A so-called hypodermic effect was claimed; however such claim was not founded on scientific processes, but mostly on speculative perceptions (Buckingham, 2003). Researchers further assessed the impact of film on viewers and reached the conclusion that these films prompted children to behave in delinquent manners; however, the data gathering process in the surveys covered the laboratory process of investigating, with subjects taken out of the social context and evaluated as individuals (Cumberbatch, 1989). In the post-World War II period, a significant shift was seen in the study by Lazarsfeld, Berelson, & Gaudet (1944) establishing that Americans voting in an election utilised the radio as well as newspapers to make their decisions on candidates to vote for. In effect, the media helped reinforce their opinions and decisions. After various studies were carried out assessing media effects, newer approaches were carried out by Blumler and Katz (1974) through their study entitled, The Uses of Mass Communication in 1974. Their study expressed that viewers often have specific needs while watching television (Blumler & Katz, 1974). Sociologists have also discovered that audiences are active viewers, they analyse what they watch and break down the media through conventions, often assessing them in terms of their social context (Morley, 1995). Still, even with the studies made on the effects, it is still difficult to determine the impact of numerous media text. Viewers of War of the Worlds were actually already very much affected and anxious about the threat of war in most parts of the world (Sherry, 2004). Moreover, the copycat killings following the release of the film Natural Born Killers in 1994 were actually carried out by ... Read More
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