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Does Mass Media Have a Negative Impact on Society?




Today mass media influence substantially the modern society and the formation of an individual’s identity due to the development of mass media, which reach the mass audience and are able to shape the public opinion. At first glance, the emergence of mass media have a positive impact on society since mass media keep people informed and provide larger opportunities for communication. On the other hand, mass media have rather negative than positive impact because they do not just shape cultural identity or public opinion, but they often promote violence, which undermine the normal development of an individual and may have a negative impact on social behavior and psychology of people.

Modern mass media permanently influence people. In fact, people are constantly exposed to this impact, which they cannot avoid because mass media are everywhere. Moreover, modern mass media are an essential part of the modern culture and they shape cultural identity and views of people. In such a situation, mass media may have a negative impact on the society because of the excessive violence which is depicted in films, news issues and other programs and mass media, including not only visual but also print media as well as radio. The negative impact of violence in media increased substantially in the result of the wider spread and practically permanent impact of media on people. It proves beyond a doubt that violence always exposes the audience to the risk of certain psychological problems and can increase aggressiveness of people. At any rate, the impact of violence in media may be destructive on psychological and moral development of children.

In actuality, the effect of violence is always negative on human psychology because people get used to violence. As a result, they do not perceive violent acts or offenses as something abnormal. Instead, they treat violence and aggressive behavior as a norm. In this respect, “happy” violence may be even more dangerous because it contributes to the positive perception of violence. What is meant here is the fact that people viewing “happy” violence in media do not have any negative emotion. In stark contrast, such violence seems to be funny and amusing. Such a view on violence formed by media results in the growing violence in real life situations, because people lose control over their behavior and they use violence as an effective tool to prove the righteousness of their position, for instance. In this respect, children are particularly vulnerable to the negative effect of the “happy’ violence. The problem is that children cannot distinguish such concepts as good and evil. Therefore, if they are “happy” while watching violence on TV they form a positive attitude to violence, to the extent that they can believe that violence is good. Eventually, they extrapolate their experience of viewing media on the real life that leads to the aggressive and violent behavior of children. Many specialists (Tolson, 149) point out the fact that children attempt to follow the models of behavior they acquire while watching TV or playing video games, etc.

Moreover, nowadays, in addition to traditional media, such as TV, children, as the part of the audience which is the most susceptible to the negative impact of violence in media, have access to Internet, they play video games which may also contain a lot of violent acts. As a result, they acquire wrong or, to put it more precisely, violent models of behavior. At the early age they cannot distinguish between such concepts as good and bad. This is why they imitate the models of behavior they learn from TV, Internet, video games, movies, etc. As a result, the violence in media contributes to violent and aggressive behavior of children and negatively affects the formation of their personality (Barker, 64). However, the impact of violence in media on adults may be also very significant since it also stimulates anti-social behavior of people since the abundance of violence in media changes the perception of violence as abnormal, anti-social act, instead, it is perceived as a norm. In such a situation, the number of those who “blame media violence for societal violence and want to censor violent content to protect children” (Bagdikian, 138) steadily grows.

Thus, taking into consideration all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that mass media does have a negative impact on society, which is manifested through the excessive violence that is present in mass media. In fact, violence in media is a serious problem, but it only uncovers the full extent to which mass media can have a negative impact on society since they shape the public opinion and identity of the audience that is, a priori, very dangerous because it opens the way to manipulations with public consciousness.

Works cited:

Althusser, L. “Ideology & ideological state apparatuses.” In J. Evans & S. Hall (eds) Visual Culture: The Reader. London, Sage Publications, 1999, pp. 317-323.

Bagdikian, Ben H. The Media Monopoly, Sixth Edition, Beacon Press, 2000.

Barker, C. Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice. 3rd edn., London, Sage, 2008, pp.57-73.

Chomsky, Naom. “What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream”, Z Magazine, June, 1997.

Klein, Sage N. Advertising and Popular Culture, London: Routeledge, 2000.

Tolson, A. “Popular culture: practice and institution.” In C. MacCabe (ed), High theory/Low culture: Analysing popular television & film. Manchester, Manchester University Press, 1996, pp.146-155.



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