How the Visual Media Affect People
In modern society, media is everywhere, and it is almost impossible to avoid. The mass media have become such an ordinary, everyday part of society that many people fail to realize the immense impact which the mass media have on all aspects of society – including political, economic, and ideological aspects. The mass media influence the way we vote, the things we buy, the way we act, the values we hold, and the way we perceive reality.
The media can be very helpful to people and their children who carefully choose the movies and shows that they watch. With high-quality programming in various fields of study—science, medicine, nature, history, the arts, and so on—TV and videotapes increase the. knowledge of the average and the well-educated person; they can also improve thinking ability. Moreover, television benefits elderly people who cannot go out often, as well as patients in hospitals and residents of nursing facilities. Additionally, it offers language learners the advantage of ‘real-life’ audiovisual instruction and aural comprehension practice at any time of day or night. And of course, television and video can provide almost everyone with good entertainment—pleasant ways to relax and spend free time at home.
Nevertheless, there are several serious disadvantages to the visual media. First of all, some people watch the ‘tube’ for more hours in a day than they do anything else. In a large number of homes, TV sets—as many as five or more in a single household - are always on. Instead of spending time taking care of their kids, parents often use the tube as an ‘electronic baby sitter.’ As a result, television and video can easily replace family communication as well as physical activity and other interests.
Secondly, too much TV—especially programming of low educational value—can reduce people’s ability to concentrate or reason. In fact, studies show that after only a 20. minute minutes or two of visual media, a person’s mind ‘relaxes’ as it does during light sleep. Another possible effect of television and videotapes on the human brain is poor communication. Children who watch a lot of TV may lose their ability to focus on a subject or an educational activity for more than ten to fifteen 24. minute minutes. Maybe it is because of the visual media that some kids—and adults too—develop attention deficit disorder ADD, a modern condition in which people are unable to pay attention, listen well, follow instructions, or remember everyday things.
A third negative feature of the media is the amount of violence or horror on the screen—both in real events in the news and movies or TV programs. It scares people and gives them terrible nightmares; the fear created by media images and language can last for a long time. On the other hand, frequent viewers of ‘action programming’ get used to its messages: they might begin to believe there is nothing strange or unusual about violent crime, fight, killing, and other terrible events and behavior. Studies show that certain personality types are likely to have strong emotional reactions or dangerous thoughts after some kinds of ‘entertainment.’ They may even copy the acts that they see on violent shows—start fires, carry and use weapons, attack people in angry or dangerous ways, and even worse.
Because of the visual media, some people may become dissatisfied with the reality of their own lives. To these viewers, everyday life does not seem as exciting as the roles actors play in movies or TV dramas. They realize they are not having as much fun as the stars of comedy shows. Furthermore, average people with normal lives may envy famous media personalities, who seem to get unlimited amounts of money and attention. Also, media watchers might get depressed when they cannot take care of situations in real life as well as TV stars seem to. On the screen, they notice, actors solve serious problems in hour or half-hour programs—or in twenty-second commercials.
Yet another negative feature of modern television is called ‘trash TV.’ These daily talk shows bring real people with strange or immoral lives, personalities, or behavior to the screen. Millions of viewers—including children—watch as these ‘instant stars’ tell their most personal secrets, shout out their angry feelings and opinions, and attack one another. TV watchers seem to like the emotional atmosphere and excitement of this kind of programming—as well as the tension of the real but terrible stories on TV ‘news magazine’ shows. What effect does frequent viewing of such programs have on people’s lives? It makes television more real than reality, and normal living begins to seem boring.
Finally, the most negative effect of the tube might be addiction. People often feel a strange and powerful need to watch TV or play a CD even when they do not enjoy it or have the free time for entertainment. Addiction to a TV or video screen is similar to drug or alcohol dependence: addicts almost never believe they are addicted. Even so, truthful media addicts have to give yes answers to many of these questions.