Negative Effect of Media in Each Group Age Research Proposal

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¶ … Negative effects of media on different age groups

Picture this: a young teenage girl is in her room, her music turned up as loud as possible as she sings along to the vulgar lyrics and gyrates just like the superstar singer she's seen on television countless times. Her mom, hearing the words from downstairs, rushes up to see her daughter's suggestive moves and immediately turns off the music. An epic fight ensues. This scene is fairly typical, with differences in detail, of every generation of the industrial era, when media became a thing not only accessible to but developed for different and specific age groups. This has led to better focused advertising, and content that has a more obvious and immediate appeal to different sectors of society, but the differences created by the media often appears to -- and very well could in reality -- have negative consequences of divisiveness in society.

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The modern age has also come with an expansion of media outlets, adding first widely available print media, then radio, television, and now the enormous and ever growing Internet. From reporting the news to advertising aimed at getting people to buy things they could never really need, media has become the primary mechanism by which people connect to the world. This would not necessarily be a bad thing if violence and sexuality were not so prevalent in all types of media. Several prominent social researchers and psychologists have linked violence in the media to increased aggression in society (Jenkins 1999). Research scientist Dr. Jonathon Freedman states the matter quite bluntly: "the physiological effects of media violence cause aggressive behavior. Exposure to violent imagery is linked to increased heart rate, faster respiration and higher blood pressure. Some think that this simulated 'fight-or-flight' response predisposes people to act aggressively in the real world" (Freedman 2002, pp. 158).

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Negative Effect of Media in Each Group Age Assignment

Such exposure begins at a much younger age than might be expected. Cartoons are a popular form of media entertainment for children as young as a year of age, and violence is a typical staple of animated television shows. Tom and Jerry's antics would be horribly vicious and inhumane in the real world, yet such cartoons have persisted for generations. New shows are no better; Digimon is a famous Japanese cartoon series and its own franchise in consumer commodities that, like its predecessor Pokemon, involves fantastic beings engaged in injurious battles with each other. The line between reality and fiction is blurred at younger ages, and children tend to copy the actions they see in cartoons, like hitting, fighting, shouting, and worse. The link between media violence and socially detrimental behaviors has been well established by several prominent groups: the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry released a joint statement saying in unequivocal terms that media violence has a direct affect on children's behavior (Congressional Public Health Summit, 2000).

The wide range of these effects include may include children becoming less interested in school, exhibiting violent and aggressive behavior, spending less time interacting with parents and friends, increased anxiety and passivity, and becoming more easily bored by cartoons that contain little or no "action" (Congressional Public Health Summit, 2000). Obviously, the behavior that children exhibit is hugely affected by the media they take in, and as they become increasingly desensitized and bored with non-violent media, the problem is worsened. Children wmay turn to more and more violent media to get the same level of entertainment, and thus become more desensitized and more bored with the rest of the world, until the "action" they have witnessed in the media seems like the only truly worthwhile thing in life.

Erik Erikson was an internationally prominent developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory of the social development of human beings. Much of his theory is still intact and used today, especially the identity crisis experiences by young adults in the modern era. According to Erikson, adolescence is the time of life when people attempt to develop identity and ideas about strength, weakness, goals, occupation, sexual identity, and gender rules. To make things more difficult, the teenage body is a raging bundle of hormones that often cause mood swings and other strange behavior. Obviously, being a teenager can be a very challenging experience, and the constant involvement in and bombardment with various forms of media can make the task more difficult still. Not only does modern media present them with a wide and often confusing array of choices, but it actively attempts to persuade them in various direction.

Teens appear to be especially susceptible to media slavishness, looking to celebrities for trends in fashion and life style. The media often glorifies these celebrities' unhealthy patterns of drug and alcohol abuse and other reckless behaviors. This is true of celebrities in the music world, in television and film, and almost every other media outlet that teenagers provide the major consumer base for these days. The various media outlets have recognized this, and as the youth becomes desensitized to formerly outrages images and circumstances, it has begun to churn out ever more violent and sexually charged shows, songs, etc., which ahs caused a great deal of divisiveness in society at large. For example, when singer Jordan Knight, formerly of the popular New Kids on the Block male singing group, released a solo album in 1999, Canadian activists called for a boycott of the album because it included a song advocating date rape. And when the controversial rap artist Eminem came to Toronto in 2000, politicians and activists unsuccessfully called for the government to bar him from the country, on the grounds that his violent lyrics promoted hatred against women (his song Kim graphically depicts him murdering his wife; and Kill You describes how he plans to rape and murder his mother). Such violence in popular forms of music are especially insidious, as music has a way of working into the subconscious. The teenagers listening to such lyrics might not even realize the effect it is having on them.

In adult age groups, Erikson identifies the central conflict as one between a desire for intimacy and isolation. At the start of this stage, the adolescent conflict between identity and role confusion is coming to an end, but adults are still eager to blend their identities with friends (Erikson, 18). They want to fit in. Media, for better or for worse, is the primary means by which people determine how to accomplish this, and the often stereotyped image of the world presented by news media can lead to prejudice and isolationism amongst adults. Both television and print news are considered primary sources of creating and/or reinforcing certain racial and ethnic stereotypes, most obviously in the current era with Muslims and, as always, African-Americans (Yount). The supposed credibility of news outlets can make it difficult for the more naive members of the adult population to tell the difference between exaggerated representations in the media and the way the world really is, increasing yet again the divisiveness between cultures. For awhile, there were constant reports of wars in the Middle East and suspected terrorists in the rest of the world; the level of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Western world has risen significantly as a direct result.

Violence and sexuality in the media have become increasingly apparent and increasingly graphic in the past decade. This can be easily seen by watchin a rerun of lmost any sitcom from the 1990s: the jokes are incredibly corny and mostly family-oriented, and when innuendo is used it is almost never in such a way that a child would have any understanding of the sexual connotations. Today, by contrast, sex is discussed openly on network entertainment and reality… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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