Apart from the telegraph, radio, newspaper, magazines, and television, the Internet has become one of our means to collecting and accessing information and communication around the world. We plan our day-to-day activities, entertainment, health care, education, travel arrangements, and current affairs based on the information received through various channels.
So, if we rely on mass media so much, how does it generate an influence on the society? Before answering this question, perhaps it is pertinent that we address another question―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, relatives, friends, and people we come in contact with daily may fall on deaf ears, but media holds us all spellbound! At this point, it becomes necessary to define this concept.
Understanding Mass Media
It may be defined as any form of communication which is meted out to the people at large through various forms of communication. 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 media channels.
Mass media holds a kind of mystique in the minds of people. It is because communication is designed in such a way that it appeals to a larger demographic segment. The test of a successful 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 is also getting publicity by word-of-mouth channel!
Does it Have a Hold on Us?
It is hard to argue with the fact that mass media has a compelling effect on the human mind; especially on minds which are impressionable. For example, its influence on our children is understandably higher than in adults.
The Influence on Youth
There is a burgeoning need among 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. Experts understand this need, and hence, they come up with advertisements on TV, in 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 certain products appear believable than they tend to be.
Being effective, it can be used on the youth to drive home pressing concerns in the country. Child obesity, the dangers of alcohol, preteen sexual relations, importance of exercise and fitness, etc. If these things can be done, the media will be able to influence the youth for the better and send beneficial messages for the development of the youth than what it is sending today.
The Influence on Adults
Like children and youth, it 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 entertainment has to offer. While men usually find it difficult to hold themselves back in the face of 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 tempted towards products which guarantee immunity from aging altogether and not just what the previous generation called 'aging gracefully'. It can yet be used constructively to teach adults about the importance of insurance, financial education, and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
As you can see, it holds a large share of importance in our society, but if used constructively, it can be more of a boon than the bane which people consign it to be these days. After all, there are two sides to a coin and it is up to us to pick the correct one, and take it forward!