It is no doubt that media plays an essential role in human life as well as brings a wide range of advantages, such as: institution and industry changes to new technology, knowledge gain from educational television, etc. (Bryant, J. and Oliver, M.B, 2009). On the dark side, the negative effects that the media causes on society are increasing and can not be controlled. In this essay, I will explain some key words which are “media”, “society” and “media effects”. Moreover, three unintended effects of media will be discussed: (a) Media enhances the prevalence of fake news; (b) Media violence on aggressive behavior and (c) Media’s erotic and sexual material on premature sexual knowledge as well as two case studies related, namely “The proliferation of fake news about COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam” and “The Bobo doll experiment” will be analyzed.
Commencing with media, it can be defined as the manipulation of the body’s capabilities, using the facilities available in nature or artificial tools to express as well as convey information and messages from oneself to others or from one place to another.
News, entertainment, education, data or advertising messages are widespread through media. Nowadays, there are various kinds of media, such as: Internet, television, newspaper, advertising, social media, etc. In terms of society, it is defined by sociologists as a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.
Furthermore, media and society have a strong relationship. More specifically, media and society interact with and affect each other. On the one hand, media impose on society. On the other hand, society makes use of media. Especially, theorists claimed that so much media exposure within a community will contribute to shifts in awareness, perceptions or behavior, this is called ‘media effects’ (Kuehn, “Media Effects”). Research on media impacts reflects on aspects of the influence that media has on individuals, organisations, community and culture. In the past twenty five years, (McGuire, 1986) noted five most commonly unintended effects of media: the effect of media violence on acts of aggression; the effect of media representations on fact construction in culture; the media prejudice impacts on stereotyping (Perse, E.M. and Lambe, J., 2016). Moreover, in 2010, the spectrum of harmful and beneficial impacts on adolescents were summarized, such as: (a) early sexual mature and experimentation; (b) decreasing time spent in schoolwork; (c) developing prosocial habits and behaviours; etc (McQuail, 2010). To sum up, media analysis is an field abundant in theory (Perse, E.M. and Lambe, J., 2016).
Regarding fake news, the fact that during the Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam has been spotting many false information floating online. For instance, on the 2nd April, a Facebook account named N.K.T spreaded a rumor that starting from 3rd April, all online selling would be banned. Thus, Vietnamese authority pledged to impose hefty fines on those spreading fake news and rumors on social media. As of March 23, there were nearly 300,000 news, posts on websites, blogs, forums; nearly 600,000 news, articles and clips related to the Covid-19 epidemic were posted on social networks. In particular, according to the report of the Ministry of Public Security, the authorities have timely verified and worked with 654 cases of reporting false information; administrative sanctions of 146 people. The prevention of untrue information initially achieved success thanks to the synchronous and drastic participation of ministries, branches and localities, along with the high sense of responsibility of the people in matching, cooperating with the Government in implementing measures to prevent and control diseases. To sum up, the consequences of these misinformation do not only hinder the fight against epidemics by health organizations or cause social instability, but also threaten the lives of users if following the instructions, lead this deviation.
With respect to the Bobo doll experiment, as part of a series of experiments during the 1960s, Bandura and fellow (Bandura, A., Ross, D. and Ross, S.A., 1961) and (Bandura, A., Ross, D. and Ross, S.A., 1963) explored the conception that children mimic the behaviors they see on television, particularly when respected character traits or when perceived behaviors are praised. In the experiment area, children aged four to five were shown a five-minute video and then brought to a play room and observed through a one-way mirror for twenty minutes. Children were allocated to watch one of three movies at random, each involving a boy picking up a fight with another boy and destroying some toys. The attacker won the fight in the first place and was rewarded for having all the toys to play with; secondly, the assailant is beaten by his opponent and is punished; then, the two kids play without violence. Furthermore, a fourth group of children without previous exposure to a film was observed. The results showed that those children, particularly the boys, who saw the rewarded aggressive model spontaneously committed twice as much imitative aggression as all other groups (including kicking a large ‘Bobo’ doll), but no more non-imitative aggression. These children were found to disagree with the actions of the model when questioned afterwards, and still they were motivated to imitate him when his violence contributed to good performance. (Turner, C.W., Hesse, B.W. and Peterson‐Lewis, S., 1986) proved that there are important similarities between the situation in Bandura’s experiment and that of the case of home viewing: Young children can and sometimes do identify with characters recompensed for their violence in television programs. The more aggressive, the more likely children to watch violent television (Eron, L.D. and Huesmann, L.R., 1986), thus increasing the probability of an impact. Being triggered arbitrarily before viewing often increases the impact. (Borden, 1975) claims that these results are artefact of the experiment’s challenging characteristics (that children know what is required of them and seek to satisfy them). For adolescents, violent behavior is more likely to replicate if an adult is seen to support the test situation. However, in the context of the playground, and sometimes at home, aggressive behavior is approved by others, particularly by and for boys.
How common is fake news, and what is its impact on individuals? There are surprisingly few scientific answers to these basic questions. In evaluating the prevalence of fake news, researchers advocate focusing on the original sources – the publishers – rather than individual stories, because we view the defining element of fake news to be the intent and processes of the publisher. However, knowing how many individuals encountered or shared a piece of fake news is not the same as knowing how many people read or were affected by it (Lazer, D.M., Baum, M.A., Benkler, Y., Berinsky, A.J., Greenhill, K.M., Menczer, F., Metzger, M.J., Nyhan, B., Pennycook, G., Rothschild, D. and Schudson, M., 2018). While many users on social media are legitimate, social media users may also be malicious, and in some cases are not even real humans. The low cost of creating social media accounts also encourages malicious user accounts, such as social bots, cyborg users, and trolls. Trolls, real human users who aim to disrupt online communities and provoke consumers into an emotional response, are also playing an important role in spreading fake news on social media. For example, evidence suggests that there were 1,000 paid Russian trolls spreading fake news on Hillary Clinton. Additionally, cyborg users can spread fake news in a way that blends automated activities with human input. Usually cyborg accounts are registered by human as a camouﬂage and set automated programs to perform activities in social media. The easy switch of functionalities between human and bot oﬀers cyborg users unique opportunities to spread fake news. In a nutshell, these highly active and partisan malicious accounts on social media become the powerful sources and proliferation of fake news (Shu, K., Sliva, A., Wang, S., Tang, J. and Liu, H., 2017).
Meta-analysis of relevant research has supported the notion that media violence contributes to the development of aggressive behaviour. (Browne, K.D. and Hamilton-Giachritsis, C., 2005). Furthermore, research on violent television and films, video games, and music provides unambiguous proof that media violence raises the probability of offensive and violent actions in both immediate and long term contexts. Short-term exposure raises the risk of violent actions, aggressive thoughts and aggressive feelings, both physically and verbally. Recent retrospective large-scale studies provide converging evidence connecting repeated exposure to violent media in childhood with later-life violence, including physical attacks and spousal abuse. Media violence creates increases in the short term by priming current violent scripts and thought processes, increasing physiological anticipation, and inducing an unconscious urge to mimic observed behaviours. Also, media violence causes long-term effects across many forms of learning mechanisms that contribute to the creation of permanent (and instantly accessible) violent narratives, perception schemes, and aggression-supporting social behavioral values, and the reduction of normal negative emotional reactions to violence (i.e. desensitization) by individuals. In addition, some viewers’ characteristics (e.g., association with violent characters), social environments (e.g., parental influences) and media content (e.g., perpetrator’s attractiveness) that affect the degree to which media violence affects aggression. This work also indicates several avenues for preventive intervention (e.g., parental monitoring, understanding, and regulation of media usage for children). Current research on moderators shows, however, that nobody is fully resistant to the effects of media violence. Latest studies show a substantial amount of violence in mainstream media. Additionally, many children and young people spend an disproportionate amount of time consuming violent media (Anderson, C.A., Berkowitz, L., Donnerstein, E., Huesmann, L.R., Johnson, J.D., Linz, D., Malamuth, N.M. and Wartella, E., 2003).
Regarding to both sex and media, researchers have emphasized that individuals select media and sexual content that is congruent with their dispositions (Fisher, W.A. and Barak, A., 2001), (Ruggiero, 2000) and (Bogaert, 2001). This can also be assumed for adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit material online. Depending on specific background characteristics, some adolescents may consume sexually explicit material on the Internet whereas others may avoid it (Peter, J. and Valkenburg, P.M., 2006). Adolescents who are not in a romantic relationship will expose themselves to online sexually explicit material more often than adolescents who are in a romantic relationship (Peter, J. and Valkenburg, P.M., 2006). More specifically, this group of potential correlates of adolescents’ exposure to online sexually explicit material includes sensation seeking, life satisfaction, and sexual interest. Adolescents with a high need for sensation are typically more strongly involved in sexual activities than adolescents with a low need for sensation (Savin-Williams, R.C., Diamond, L.M., Lerner, R.M. and Steinberg, L., 2004). Moreover, adolescents and young adults with high life troubles and depression tend to engage more often in problematic Internet use, partly to escape from their dissatisfying lives, partly to compensate for what they miss in real life (Mitchell, K.J., Finkelhor, D. and Wolak, J., 2003). Additionally, adolescents who encounter problems in their lives (e.g., delinquency, substance use) are more likely to look for sexually explicit material online than other adolescents (Ybarra, M.L. and Mitchell, K.J., 2005).
In conclusion, media is an integral part of our lives. The advantages that media brings to us are no doubt, however, media causes some significant drawbacks on society. Firstly, the prevalence and impact of fake news affects residents’ cognitive. Secondly, media violence causes aggressive behaviors. Finally, erotic and sexual material leads to premature sexual knowledge and experimentation. Additionally, two case studies namely “Fake news about COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam” and “The Bobo doll experiment” were analyzed to supplement these extents. In order to use media in the most effective way, people should double-check the information they receive as well as stay away from bad media materials.