The Media and Its Role Today

The media has always been playing the main role in providing information to us. Whether it covers on education, information or entertainment, gaining the latest news on these topics has been made easier nowadays with the help of the media. There are a number of the types of media that could be obtained nowadays. This includes television, radio, newspapers, magazines and internet. Although the main idea of the media is to educate people on the latest happenings, and connect the people from different parts of the world, there is also a downside of it.

Sometimes, the media could have an impact towards a person’s personal lifestyle. One of the many impacts that could be influenced by an individual due to the media is their state of health. Exposure of the media could influence us either mentally, physically and socially as well. 2. 0 So How Does the Media Influence a Person’s Health? 2. 1 Parent Child Relationship First of all, the media in a non obvious way is actually influencing its audience’s social relationship between parent and child.

There is no doubt that when relating to the media, families are always getting together whenever they are watching a movie or enjoying their favourite sitcom aired daily. This is one of the healthy influences of the media as it helps to create closer bonds between parents and their children. A recent study estimated that 65 to 85 percent of young children’s viewing is with family members, where more than half viewing with their parents. (Van Evra 1998) But on the other hand, some people tend to misuse the media as a way to get out of family crisis.

This could be seen normally among teenagers and young children where they turn to the media to avoid interaction between family members, especially their parents. It is indeed true that parents are the main contributors towards how their children behave. Nevertheless, it also could not be denied that the media is also one of the major influences of this matter as well. Nowadays, the younger generations are more advanced, in terms of how they think and act. It is due to the reason that they are too exposed to the media contents portrayed in films and music videos.

The younger children as well as teenagers mostly, imitate these behaviours and adapt them to their everyday life. For example, if they were to see a scene where a child talks back to their parent, the child will tend to do the same thing to their own parent. Other than that, due to work load and inconsistent working hours, parents tend to use the media as a way to keep their children occupied. They will leave their children glued in front of the television or play station while they are away, whether for work or leisure.

According to a recent study in the US, watching television often replaces the time for doing homework, playing and reading which is essential in creating closer bonds between a parent and child. This influences the child to become addicted to the media, and they will constantly be attached to it. Due to this matter, relationships between their parents will be reduced. Therefore, we could argue that relationships between a parent and child can be influenced by the media. 2. 2 Diabetes and Obesity It is agreeable that the media’s main role is to inform and educate its viewers on latest events happening around the world.

Another main role of the media is to act as a medium for advertisers to advertise their products. Advertisements can be gained from different types of media. For instance we have newspapers, magazines, internet, radio and the most common medium which is the television. Fast food companies advertise their products often to attract viewers to buy them. It is true that advertising sells, but it may affect impressionable youngsters and self-conscious adolescents. An online survey showed that an individual watching television for 2 hours per day would have seen a total of 20,000 food advertisements in just one year.

The most commonly showed commercials are food containing high sugar and fat, which is known to be dangerous to the human body. Without even noticing, the media is supporting the food industry which is contributing towards a significant effect on future problems involving weight issues. Besides that, children in particular are being exposed to the media without any parental guidance. Parents are letting their children having television sets in their bedroom, which is not a good thing as this promotes unhealthy habits, such as eating while watching television.

A recent online study showed that children who have televisions in their bedroom are more likely to have weight problems, in this case obesity and diabetes than those who do not have televisions in their room. From that online research, the statistics showed that 27. 3% of children with a television in their room are overweight, which is high compared with 17. 7% of children who do not have a television in their bedroom. Therefore, it is also arguable that the media could influence the occurrences of diabetes and obesity. 2. 3 Anorexia

Through out the decades, our definition towards beauty has been altered dramatically. We no longer value people from all shapes, sizes and skin colour. The underlying cause is the portrayal of beauty standards in the media in this generation. One of the focus on beauty standards is body image. In order to be accepted, you have to be thin or else there is no place for you in Hollywood or the world of modeling. These beauty standards set by the mass media has impacted women and young teenage girls especially to aspire to be as stick thin as celebrities in the media.

Examples of stick thin celebrities are Nicole Kidman, Keira Knightley and Victoria Beckham. These days it is difficult to flip through a magazine or watch television without feeling bad about one’s body. The media’s portrayal of stick thin beauties has attributed to many young teenage girls and women developing a eating disorder. One of the eating disorder is anorexia. Anorexia is an eating disorder associated with women and young teenage girls to drive themselves to near starvation in order to be thin. Even though they are thin, they still see themselves as fat and drive themselves further by not eating or barely eating.

In short, they have developed a fear for food and a fear for getting fat. The influence of media is on our daily lives, so often we are not aware how it is affecting us. Celebrities being the main focus of the media, how they portray themselves will indirectly influence their viewers especially young girls who are not old enough to make sound judgments. In the television series, Ally Mcbeal, apparently the show’s star refused to eat so that she could keep up with the thinness of her co-stars such as Lucy Liu, Courtney Thorne-Smith and Portia De Rossi.

These little girls will grow up thinking that “thin is in” after watching shows that condone unhealthy body image. That is when they will most likely have a tendency to develop an eating disorder such as anorexia. Related statistics by the National Eating Diorder Association indicates that 40-60% of high school girls are on diet, 30-40% of junior high school children are concerned about their weight and 40% of 9 year olds have dieted. Lately the influence of celebrities such as Keira Knightly, Nicole Richie and Kate Moss with emaciated stick-thin bodies have inspired young girls and women alike to emulate their body type.

Put it simply, the extreme exposure of celebrities with size 2 or less figures has made women and little girls unhappy or dissatisfied with their body image. However, parental influence can also plays an important part in contributing to a child’s idea of an ideal weight or size. Mass media may be bombarding young minds with unrealistic standards of beauty, but it is a parent’s job to educate the child from young to know what is healthy and what isn’t. If a parent is constantly dieting and complaining about unhappy body image, then a child will more likely be vulnerable to developing an eating disorder such as anorexia.

Anorexia is a very serious mental illness as it has caused many deaths in women and teenage girls because of their refusal to eat. A study by the National Eating Disoder Association indicates that 5-20% of those with anorexia nervosa will face complications associated with the disorder such as kidney failure and heart problems. This means that among all the mental disorders, anorexia has the highest mortality rate. Their minds have been conditioned so badly to think that by eating the slightest bit that they will get fat.

Their bodies’ lost of nutrients, fat and minerals can cause them to die unless they get treatment in time. Prevention can save lives by encouraging healthy, realistic attitudes towards weight and diet. 2. 4 Violence Let’s face it, the media is cool, whatever is being done on television is being emulated by the public. For example fashion trends, smoking habits, binge drinking and premarital sex. But what happens when violence as seen on television is being seen as the way to solve problems? Violence these days is on the rise. People think it is alright to solve problems using violence.

For example solve a feud by firing fire arms at each, beat up someone for not giving money, or blowing up a public facility. These cases especially involve young adolescents who spend too much time viewing violence on television and video games. The problem with violence in real life is that one cannot escape getting hurt from a violent action. Most television dramas portray characters still end up alive or not hurt at all during a round firing bullets at each or that a character can survive a major bomb blast in a building by some stroke of luck.

It is unrealistic that someone get up on his feet with just a few bruises after being bashed up by a bunch of gangsters. That is what has been aired on television time after time. For example, the latest popular drama TV series Heroes and Smallville show unrealistic events such as rising from the dead multiple times after being killed many times. The shows’ character flying into the sky might make children under 6 think that flying is possible as in the case of a boy who thought he could be Superman flew out the window and died.

It is also unrealistic that people can develop supernatural powers by being infected by alien meteorites or through gene mutation. However, most viewers who are children and teenagers might not have good judgment to know that violence can’t solve anything would emulate their actions on television in real life. The case of two teenage boys who shot dead 13 people in a Columbine High School were fans of the highly popular video game DOOM. DOOM is a very highly violent video game where players go around building tiers to shoot characters in the video game.

Analysts theorize that part of the killer’s problem may have desensitization due to the vast amount of time spent on video games, music and vidoes filled with violent imagery. Even violent music lyrics have been shown to instil violent thoughts and emotions in a person. A research conducted by New Scientist revealed that children who listen to violent music lyrics all the time were more likely to make aggressive association with words like animal, rock and stick. This is especially so with the availability of downloading softwares, whereby anyone can download violent songs and listen to it in a portable device such MP3, MP4 and Ipod anytime.

Violent messages will constantly be bombarding their heads and more likely bringing out violent actions in chidren and teenagers. According to a survey carried out by American Academy of Pediatrics ( AAP ), studies have shown that excessive exposure to violent imagery in the mass media increases the likely hood of a child committing acts of violence. Base on statistics, nearly 2 out of 3 TV programs contain violent acts, averaging 6 violent acts per hour. An average child would have seen 10,000 violent acts per year by just watching 2 hours of cartoons a day.

Teens who watch more than 1 hour of TV a day are four times more likely compared to other kids to commit violent acts. A typical kid who enters middle school would have seen 8000 murders and 10,000 more acts of violence aired on television. In another study, researchers found that by cutting down television and video game consumption to less than an hour a day decreases verbal aggression by 50% and physical aggression by 40%. This is very serious as violence is the leading cause of death for children, adolescents and young adults which is a higher cause compared to diseases, cancer or congenital disorder.

In the past, violence was seen as a way to solve disputes as it was important to determine the survival of the fittest. However this media-exposed generation has been influenced to think that violence is cool and acceptable. We must remember that this is the real world, people can get injured and don’t heal miraculously or wake up from the dead. Destruction and chaos are the result of despicable violent acts committed by people. 2. 5 Racial and Ethnic Discrimination The media is so much part of young people’s lives these days that it is impossible to not base life and make judgments by comparing to the media.

Media influence is so prevalent that when we look at a race with tend to stereotype them to what is being portrayed in the media. If are not careful, we will be growing up with a narrow mind by thinking everything the media says is true. For example, minorities such as the blacks and Latinos are always portrayed as the bad guys. When we meet one in real life, we tend to immediately shun them thinking they are not good people as seen on television. Another reason media influence has caused discrimination among certain races and ethnic groups is that the minorities are seldom cast as the lead character.

Almost always they are second to the lead character, the victim, the bad guy or the first to die in the movies and television drama. Caucasians are mostly cast as the lead actor or actresses whether they are distress, out to save the world or leading a normal family life. This is a bad influence to the young generation who are exposed to the media 24/7 thinking that Caucasians or Americans will always be the superior person in power, never the minority. Discrimination among certain races and ethnic groups due to media influence has caused us to belief that Caucasian looks are all that.

Media influence has caused us to believe that fair, big eyes, sharp noses and high cheek bones are standard beauties of today. We have ignored other qualities of other races to be deem as beautiful. These include people of colour, people with slit eyes, people with the big lips which is an attribute among the blacks and so on. Hardly do you see an African woman or man donning the covers of magazines. On the contrary, it is history that has influenced the media to portray a certain race or culture in a discriminated way. The blacks were brought to America as slaves in the olden days.

Most cab drivers in New York are Indians. The Chinese culture believes that women cannot be independent and Indonesians in Malaysia are mainly maids and construction labourers. So, what the media has done is simply highlighting real life situations and portraying them as they are. Hence, a local movie would most likely portray the maid of a family as an Indonesian for this is common in Malaysian society. Therefore, we cannot argue the fact that it is the people who have instead influenced the media. In conclusion, media can influence people’s beliefs of a certain race or culture.

However, we must not forget that it is people’s beliefs in the first place that has influenced the media to portray them in a certain way. This cycle can only stop if we change our own beliefs to influence the media on race and culture. 3. 0 The Media Does Influence a Person’s Health The mass media is a very powerful tool. It can shape our beliefs, influence our perspective and distort our views on anything and everything. In addition to that also, our state of health could easily be influenced by the mass media. We should always take extra precaution and note that the people ehind the media are just out to make big bucks, where they will portray whatever it is they want you to see and believe so that you will be obsessed with their product. Therefore, we must instill in children from young to always create a filter in their minds to differentiate right from wrong whenever they are exposed to the media. Although media influence is strong, with parental guide and the right education, it can make all the difference in raising the next generation to make sound judgments about the contents in the media.

Individuals should be exposed on the harms that media can cause, in this case towards our health in order to generate a better future.