How does mass media influence society? Before answering this question, perhaps it is pertinent that we address the question: what is mass media?
What is Mass Media?
Statistics show that there are few things which impact the human mind more than mass media. The advice of teachers, parents and relatives may fall on deaf ears, but the mass media influence holds us all spellbound! At this point, it becomes necessary to define mass media.
Mass media may be defined as any form of communication which is meted out to the people at large, through the various forms of communication. What modes of communication are we talking about? Well there can be no static definition for the channels of mass communication as they are increasing all the time. But any form of communication which is seen and understood by a large mass of people can be taken to mean mass communication or mass media channels.
Why is mass media so attractive to people? Mass media holds a kind of mystique in the minds of the people. It is because the communication is designed in such a way that it appeals to a larger demographic segment. The test of a good mass communication marketing drive is to see if it gets the people talking. If it does, then not only does it mean that the advertising drive has been successful, but the organization in charge of the mass communication is also getting publicity by the word-of-mouth channel!
Mass Media Influence
It is hard to argue with the fact that mass media has a compelling effect on the human mind. Especially on minds which are more impressionable. For example, the mass media influence on children is understandably higher than it is in adults. So how exactly does mass media influence us?
Mass Media Influence on Youth
There is a burgeoning need amongst the youth to be accepted as a part of a group, to be popular, to have friends and relationships with people of the opposite sex etc. Mass media experts understand this need of the people and hence they come out with advertisements on TV, or in the newspapers, or on websites on how people can be more popular using a certain product. Most advertisements you see which are aimed at the youth generally talk about the 'cool quotient' of the product and how it is going to be the next 'in-thing'. And if you want to stay ahead of the game, it is absolutely vital that you procure it. The visual effect, seeing the things happen in front of you and the slice-of-life effect makes them look a lot believable than they should be.
So how should mass media be used with youth? Mass media, effective as it is, can be used on the youth to drive home pressing concerns in the country. Child obesity, the dangers of alcohol and preteen sexual relations, importance of exercise and fitness etc. If these things can be done, the mass media will be able to influence the youth for the better and send better messages for the development of the youth than what it is sending today.
Mass Media Influence on Adults
Like children and youth, mass media influences adults too, although perhaps not on the same scale. Most adults with a platonic view of things will resist the temptation of being buoyed up by what the mass media has to offer. While men usually find it difficult to hold themselves back in the face of the allure of sexuality. Other subjects which also appeal to men are financial security and a luxurious hassle-free lifestyle. Women on the other hand are more tempted towards products which guarantee immunity from aging altogether and not just what the previous generation called 'aging gracefully'.
Mass media can yet be used constructively to teach the adults about the importance of insurance, financial education and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.