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Media Technology Affects American Society

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Zachary G. McLeod

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Media Technology affects American Society

There are many forces and factors that shape the society of America. The media has a profound affect on how we perceive the world since it is controlled by others. Many of people come home and turn on the television. They zone out, and are bombarded with ads and TV shows that seem harmless but are harmful on a subconscious level. TV has become universal and affects everybody of all ages, religions, races, sizes, and sexes. There have been a number of recent studies that portray the negative affects of TV. Media, such as television, is a hindrance to America's society because it causes more violence, creates image problems and deteriorates self esteem, and induces stereotypes.

Television is detrimental to America's society because it causes more violence.

A study conducted from 1960 to 1981, researchers "determined the amount of television watched at age eight predicted the seriousness of criminal acts for which they were convicted of by age thirty". When someone watches violent television at a young age, they become affected by it and start to mimic the behavior (Centerwall 1). Being surrounded by violent influences creates a different world that the viewer is trapped in. Stossel concludes that "a huge body of evidence-including 3,000 studies" have a strong correlation between television watching and aggression. The problem of violence can be traced to television (2). From the years 1945 to 1974, the U.S. homicidal rate rose 93 percent while in Canada it increased 92 percent. This might be due to other factors one might say; however, when statistics are compared to other countries who didn't have TV at those times like South Africa, white homicide rate dropped. When South Africa was finally introduced to the TV, crime rates "skyrocketed" (Stossel, Centerwall). There are other indications that linked TV to violence. Stossel says by the time an American child turns 12, he or she will have witnessed more than 8,000 murders and 100,000 violent acts (Stossel 4). This is unbelievable information because it is hard to imagine 8,000 murders and 100,000 violent acts- it's overwhelming. Over time, watching violent TV endorses violence and murder and becomes normality. A person will become desensitized to the consequences of violence. As I recall, I have probably seen a lot of murders on TV shows and movies. It is becoming more normal to sit and watch someone be killed. Even cartoons, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, provide a "sugar-coated" way to sneak violence into children's lives, but it's deemed as acceptable and normal to watch. However, the children, like sponges, absorb everything and try to mimic what they see and learn so it's important to monitor their surroundings. It's horrible for children to be influenced by such seemingly un-harmful shows. Stossel states, "90 percent of Americans think that violent television shows hurt society" (3). If almost everyone thinks that TV violence is a hindrance, then there should be some action to censor these shows from kids.

America's society is negatively affected by television because it creates image problems and deteriorates self esteem. Television uses brightly entertaining commercials that influence thinking using cheerful, slender, good looking actors. These actors are associated with products that have an inverse affect to what they portray. For example, a man eating a Big Mac is linked with the actor's handsomeness, healthy, happiness, style, and appeal. Subconsciously, the viewer is left to think those qualities might be obtained if he or she eats a Big Mac too. However, fast food is horrible for health, and is linked to obesity (Miller, Ward 64). The problem lies in the fact that we have people that buy products based on the false appeal that the product will bring them happiness when the actual intent of the product is the opposite. The ad relies on the unhappiness of potential consumers. Another example is the Clearasil commercial. The ad uses the insecurities of its consumers to make them think twice about how they perceive themselves. The ad says, "NERVOUS about going back to school? No wonder. With those ZITS." This statement forces the viewer to look at themselves in need of assurance (Miller).

One last example that supports how Television is causes image and self esteem problems is the situation in Figi. In Figi, it was desired for a woman to be big and heavy set. Compliments were given out for putting on pounds. This seems completely opposite with the American View of women. American women should be skinny and proportionate. Well, all of this changed when Figi was Americanized with the television. Figi teens now had access to American shows that portrayed how a woman should look like. Shows like Beverly Hills 91201 stressed appearance and style. After the first 38 months of the television, 29 percent of Figi teens had risks of eating disorders, bulimia went up to 15 percent, and 74 percent of Figi teens in the study felt they were 'too big or fat' (Goodman). Within a couple of months, Figi was becoming just like America- worried about appearance so much that they change their initial ideas about weight and beauty, change their diets, and having eating disorders. Goodman emphasizes that women in America, are constantly being reminded from TV that they must be skinny. When women act the aspirations to become "beautiful", it contributes to bad health in eating habits. People should be happy for who they are and not potentially hurt themselves because of an ideal that most women or men can't reach. Goodman states, "There's a huge disparity between what they see on television and what they look like themselves--that goes not only to clothing, hairstyles and skin color but size of bodies." I can reflect on this statement on a personal level. I feel that the television I watch endorses the look of muscular bodies, good hair, masculinity, style, and appearance. I feel troubled to worry about these features because the shows and especially commercials emphasize good-looking, happy, muscular guys and I feel compelled to look like them sometimes.

Television damages the society of America because it induces more stereotypes.

Television is a great provider of information;



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