It seems when we look for reasons behind inherent behaviour and lifestyle problems in society today, the media is usually the culprit. It makes a lot of sense, right? The media must have a large impact on our lives.
Let’s look at the bigger picture.
It is easy to say that our relationship with the media is straightforwardly causal, it gives us a message and, in some way, we will respond. Consciously or subconsciously. However, this simplistic idea, which contributes to the ‘media effects’ model, feeds anxieties that the media is doing more harm than good.
David Gauntlett’s article, ‘Ten things wrong with the effects model’, critiques the cliched assumption that mass media directly affects our “subsequent behaviour.” He argues that the current methods used to accuse mass media for causing “social problems” are in fact flawed.
An article published on the UK Daily Mail website earlier this year claimed …Viewers increase food intake by 40% when bombarded with gloomy news bulletins. Very shocking data! However, content analysis studies similar to the one outlined in the article raise suspicion that other social factors including socioeconomic status and emotional state may have not been holistically considered. So we’re able to question, are we really so vulnerable that television is the sole reason that so many of us like to comfort eat?
What about violence? Admittedly, I’ve even been concerned about my younger brother and the impact of his video gaming preferences to the liking of ‘Assassins Creed’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ The ‘Bobo Doll’ experiment carried out from the 1960s by psychologist Alfred Bandura supported the presumption that aggressive behaviour, particularly in children, is facilitated via observation of violent media content. Although, Bandura’s laboratory tests allow us to consider Gauntlett’s perspective that the effects model “treats children as inadequate” and that such experiments have been conducted in artificial environments that don’t mimic real life.
Therefore the effects model has questionable validity. Certainly the social issues of obesity and violence need to be dealt with appropriately, but I will leave you with this question… is the media really to blame?
Till next time,