The media acts as a source of information and entertainment to a majority of people in society. It influences how people perceive the world as they grow up. A few stereotypes can, therefore, interfere with the existing beliefs and ideologies of the society. Media exposure has a high level of persuasiveness on society, thus making it hard for individuals not to get swayed by what is perceived to be societal norms. Content broadcasted influences how people are behaving or thinking. The most affected are the young viewers who lack the intellectual tools to help them differentiate messages meant for storytelling functions. Media literacy will help in educating the viewers, mostly the youths, on how to determine what to absorb and what to ignore when consuming media. Exposure to stereotyped media can lead to a change in attitudes, choices, view of gender roles, and increased aggressive behavior.
News stereotypes affect the implicit and explicit attitudes of viewers. Some news media outlets over-represent specific groups of criminals. For example, the local television news in America covers a majority of crime stories that depict more African Americans involved in criminal activities than the Whites. The stories tend to paint them in a bad way and provide statistics that are inconsistent with reality. The same case is evident in Australia where the media portrays most foreigners as the criminals in the country. Additionally, a couple of newspaper articles seem to follow the same path. The repeated pairing of minority groups with criminal activities leads to implicit and explicit negative attitudes towards this social group (Arendt and Northup 373). Continued exposure to such media content will make the Whites fear to interact with Black Americans as they start to view them as criminals. Reading stereotyped content on a magazine about a certain ethnic group can influence implicit attitudes towards that group. However, most people tend to believe what they read in articles and use it to form their judgment and decisions. Moreover, constant exposure to news which denotes a political issue in the wrong way impacts the audiences’ attitudes negatively.
The media influences the choices made by young adolescents and dictates their personality and behavior. The content broadcasted in most media outlets promotes the need for girls to focus on the outlook of their bodies and convinces them to treat their bodies as sexual objects for others’ consumption. A majority of the films and adverts shown in television emphasize the need for girls to look beautiful and sexy. However, exposure to such content leads to increased body dissatisfaction among the youths, especially young girls (Ward and Aubrey 8). Additionally, media messages teach girls that many people prefer ladies who are sexy and associated them with popularity and success. As such, girls start focusing on their external rather than on their internal appearance. Girls suffering from self-objectification perform poorly in academics and have low self-esteem, increased anxiety, and suffer from depression. As children get into their adolescent stage, the media acts as their source of information about relationships and romantic behaviors. Likewise, teens copy the values and behaviors expressed in movies and TV productions, such as love at first sight. They are eager to understand what is expected of them sexually. The teenagers end up behaving as shown in the media without any guidance.
The media influences individuals’ beliefs and opinions regarding their gender roles in society. Advertisements are the leading source of gender stereotyping as they occupy different platforms, such as social media, televisions, and other print media channels.
Some advertisements that are considered masculine use male models whereas seen as feminine features their female counterparts. However, when a woman praises male cosmetics, men are likely to purchase the product as it acts as a guarantee of its quality (Wolska). Most advertisements portray the stereotypical gender messages showing the roles of men and women in society. As a result, women end up following what they see in the adverts and start practicing it in their lives (Walskar). Stereotypical representation of males and females in movies continue to reinforce the belief that men are more capable than women (Wood 7). Additionally, heavy viewing of gender-traditional TV content leads to children having gender-typed career aspirations. The media controls the public activity by undetectably exchanging the prevailing domineering philosophy. Furthermore, media reinforces the idea that people value masculine traits and behavior than feminine. Young men expending such media messages are probably going to show manly practices and convictions.
Viewing stereotypical media content influences the aggressive and violent behavior of individuals. A study that involved tracking violent television consumption and real-world violent behavior for 15 years indicates that watching aggressive media increases aggressive behavior (Anderson et.al. 88). Additionally, increased watching of violent films normalizes the act and individuals start to view it as a normal occurrence. Moreover, people used to watching violent movies take a long time to respond to a person asking for assistance from strangers compared to viewers of a non-violent movie (Anderson et.al 85). Furthermore, violent media not only increases aggressive thoughts but also decreases empathy and pro-social behavior in a causal relationship. Additionally, influential people who appear on media platforms showing aggressive behaviors impact the beliefs of viewers on aggressiveness (Mastro 369). However, it is hard to record the extent of aggressiveness influenced by the media. Similarly, watching violent programs in the early stages of life can lead one to committing more acts of physical aggression or verbal attacks in the future. Additionally, watching a movie that portrays sex and violence can bring massive effects on how men handle their female abusers.
Technology is making it hard to control what children view when their parents and guardians are not around. Nowadays, children can access media content, such as movies or even music songs through YouTube using smartphones and tablets. Additionally, social media platforms have become a one stop where the younger generation goes to learn through experimenting.. A simple post on Facebook reaches millions of people instantly, hence making it hard to minimize exposure. Additionally, advertisers influence a majority of youths as they expose them to thousands of adverts daily sensitizing on beauty and masculinity. As such, media literacy will be beneficial in educating the society on how to handle different media stereotyping (Koltay 219). The move will ensure all citizens consume beneficial content and assume everything else to avoid future detrimental effects.
The media plays a big role in not only informing the society but also shaping the thinking, attitude, behavior and acceptable norms. The most vulnerable group is the young girls and boys who cannot differentiate between reality and the picture painted by advertisers. Society neglected its duty to teach children on acceptable behaviors and left them to learn from media outlets. In this connection, ladies nowadays use more beauty products to make them look more beautiful and sexier to impress men. As such, it is critical to conduct further research on the effects of different kinds of mass media on the viewers as a way of creating an awareness of the harmful effects of media consumption.
Anderson, Craig A., et al. “The Influence of Media Violence on Youth.” Psychological Science in the Public Interest, vol. 4, no. 3, Dec. 2003, pp. 81–110, doi:10.1111/j.1529-1006.2003.pspi_1433.x.
Arendt, Florian, and Temple Northup. “Effects of long-term exposure to news stereotypes on implicit and explicit attitudes.” International Journal of Communication vol. 9 (2015): p. 21.
Mastro, Dana. “Racial/ethnic stereotyping and the media.” The SAGE handbook of media processes and effects (2009): pp. 377-391.
Ward, L. Monique, and Jennifer Stevens Aubrey. “Watching gender: How stereotypes in movies and on TV impact kids’ development.” São Francisco, CA: Common Sense (2017).
Wolska, Malgorzata. “Gender stereotypes in mass media. Case study: Analysis of the gender stereotyping phenomenon in TV commercials.” Krytyka. Org, 9 (2011).
Wood, Julia T. “Gendered Media: The Influence of Media on Views of Gender.”
Koltay, Tibor. “The media and the literacies: Media literacy, information literacy, digital literacy.” Media, Culture & Society vol. 33, no. 2 (2011): pp. 211-221.
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