Media; Mass; video; pressure; TV; television; film; advertisements; ads; phones; shopping; buying;
The media have a huge impact on how we see the world, on our socialisation, development, opinions, values, and knowledge. It is easy to become overwhelmed by information and messages we receive through the media. The media can affect us even though we often don't even realise it is happening. For example, media influence our decisions about what products we buy, and sometimes as a result we buy things that we don't need. You can't escape media messages these days, but you can become better at choosing which messages to take on board. You can be Media Smart.
The media are many things to many people, depending on where you live, and what you can access. Some forms of media include:
- the internet
- newspapers and magazines
- online games
- CDs and tapes
- billboards and posters
- text messages
is media pressure?
'Media pressure' means that the media, in all of their forms, can pressure or influence our actions, beliefs, values, opinions and ideas. For many people, their ideas about the world are based on what they see, hear or read in the media.
- For example, a television series may portray a certain type of family as 'normal', and lead many people to think that this is the way families should be - even though often the families on TV shows are a fantasy. Although we may know that we don't act or live this way, we may still feel pressured to be more like the family on the television.
can it affect you?
From the first time you were exposed to the media, they have influenced you.
- Some media play a significant role in socialising children, and forming their ideas about the world. Besides their own family, children's views can be strongly affected by television and books, as well as friends, school, etc.
- Most forms of media are seducing in many ways. They can become addictive because they appear exciting. Advertising people use clever techniques to hook you in and make you want to consume more media or products! It is estimated that children watch 40,000 TV advertisements each year!
- Often we just receive messages from the media and don't question them or talk about them with others. It's easy to forget that we don't have to believe or accept everything we see or hear - the more we question things, the better we become at sorting the important messages from the rubbish.
- Media messages have been only one way - we watch and consume them, but don’t create or influence the media. New things on the Internet have changed this though, such as using social networking sites and uploading content.
You can be selective about what you expose yourself to. There may be a whole range of newspapers or television programs available to you that are educational and mind expanding, but in the end you need to make the decision about what you want to see, read or hear.
The internet is a powerful form of media. People spend many hours in front of the computer each day; socializing, reading, playing games and creating content. The internet now has so many ways for people to consume media that it is important to think of it when looking at media pressure.
- The internet is often used to access other forms of media, such as newspapers, radio, movies and music.
- Unlike some forms of media the internet allows people to create lots of content too. So people are not just consumers but also producers of media. People create web pages, profiles on social networking sites, blogs, upload video and audio: heaps of exciting ways to interact.
- The internet is not controlled by media organisations so there is a lot of freedom. This means you can access alternative views, unedited information, and local reports. However, this freedom means there is also lots of dodgy information, abusive content, and opportunities for predators to access people they wish to abuse.
- To learn more about this check Internet safety.
Some people read newspapers every day, others less often. We read them to keep up with local community, national or world news, for work or for entertainment.
There are certain features of newspapers that you should be aware of if you want to be tuned in to media pressure and how it can influence you.
- Major newspapers are owned by a very few proprietors, who each have their own particular viewpoints that they may want to get across to readers.
- Headlines can be misleading or dramatised to get you in.
- Stories (news) compete to get in to the newspaper, and someone decides what is more important than something else (the editor - not you).
- There is a focus on dramatic "newsworthy" stories that will attract attention and sell papers.
- The articles are mostly brief and can lack detailed analysis. They may not truly illustrate a situation, or they may give a perspective that is biased.
||Glamour, glamour, glamour! They appeal because they are glossy and include attractive images and usually of "attractive" people (or famous ones). They are often very competitive because there are many with the same themes, for example fashion, beauty, television information, famous people and their private lives, house designs, sports, surfing and health. They are also quite expensive!! And they can be a strong form of pressure in many ways.|
- They set up often unrealistic goals of how people "should" be (face, body size, sex life). Have you noticed that the photographs of models and famous people in magazines often have them using cigarettes? This can be a way that the tobacco companies use to advertise cigarettes. These models, photographers and magazines have probably been paid extra to do this.
- They guide us on lifestyle issues like relationships by providing us with "surveys" and questionnaires on what sort of person we are and how we should change to be in the right category.
- They sell us things! When people feel bad they often use shopping, alcohol or eating as a way to feel better in the short term. Good for the economy and corporations, bad for our wallets and health.
- They tell us what is going on with celebrities and maybe influence our thinking. Everyone likes a bit of gossip!
- They manipulate images to sell products, feeding into peoples' worries about how they look. Check out this video on youtube: Dove Evolution. It shows just how much fashion magazines change or 'airbrush' models' photos. No wonder people feel they don't match up -not even the models do!
Voices - no faces - an interesting form of media that does not use our eyes to lure us in. So what is so appealing about this form of media?
- It is portable, you can have it just about anywhere, home, car, plugged in your ears while you skateboard, have a bath, go to sleep etc. This can be great company. If you don’t have a portable radio you can download radio ‘podcasts’ from the internet and listen to them on mp3 players or phones. Check out some podcasts in the resources tab above.
- It can provide humour, news, talkback, political discussions, music, general information, sport reporting, interviews and so on.
- People can have their say on talkback programs. This may be good, but when only one view is allowed to have a say, it becomes another way for the dominant ideas to rule.
|This is one of the most popular forms of media all over the world. Along with the internet and video games, young people send a lot of time watching TV.
- People often think that if it is on TV it must be important, but this is not true.
- It can be good company and you can play along with game shows - yeah!
- It is humorous, entertaining and a good way of escaping your own world for a while.
- It shows role models to admire, look up to, and relate to.
- We learn something.
- It gives us something to do when we are bored or lonely.
- But think about these questions:
- Do you spend more time watching 'reality' TV about other people's relationships than you do hanging out with friends?
- Do you spend more time watching gardening shows than you spend in the garden?
- Do you spend more time watching sports programs than you do getting out and doing something active?
- Maybe it's time to cut back on TV watching.
Sometimes TV can make you feel bad. Ever noticed that day time TV, and late night TV seems full of ads for exercise equipment, diets, cosmetics and other products aimed at physical appearance? These times of the day are when people might feel vulnerable and bad about themselves, so advertisers use messages about changing their appearance to sell products.
Movies are another way 'good' and 'bad' messages are given out to us. For example:
- Even though tobacco advertising is banned in Australia, cigarettes may still be shown in movies. Smoking rates are falling, but 'product placement' of cigarettes is increasing!
- Actors and producers are paid or given gifts by tobacco companies to smoke their brands in the movies. Check out how much here (Cancer Council Australia).
The media is a tricky source of information. Newspaper, TV, websites and other media all compete to get your attention. This often means the stories that make it are the exciting ones or the 'sensational' ones. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes the stories are not the most reliable.
- If a study comes out that makes a claim that is new and exciting, it may be published even if it goes against all the other research in that area.
- Scientific reports are often hard to understand and can be very long. Reporters often have to change the language and make it shorter. This makes it easier to read, but important parts of the original report might be missing.
- Scientific studies vary in their quality, usually due to the type of study. Media reports don't often give the details of the study – you have to find it yourself, and this can be difficult.
- Some commercial websites might get money from advertisers. These advertisers might also be the people that benefit from positive reports about products. So the site might make money by showing certain reports. It's not always the case, but you should keep it in mind.
So how can you work it all out?
- If you are writing a report, make sure you get help to get information from reliable sources. Government websites or well known medical sites are a good place to start.
- Don't try to diagnose your own health problems. If you are worried about something, visit your doctor.
- Check out topics on this site. Simply use the search function and see if you can find what you are looking for.
There is an Australian Universities website 'The Conversation' which has expert comments on a lot of newly published research.
Tips on avoiding media pressure
Be aware of media pressure and influence - it does exist and every one is vulnerable to it. Remember that you are a consumer of a product and 'they' want you to buy.
- Think about what the advertisement or the message is offering you and ask yourself 'is that likely?'
- Ask yourself: "Do I need it?"
- Think about who is speaking to you. Whose message is it? Could there be bias?
Remain aware that the news is always selective and you're not doing the selecting!
- Make a stand against inappropriate advertising and media, write letters to the editor, see if there are advertising standards, and get a petition together.
- Enjoy the media, so much of it is there for your pleasure and leisure - take it in, laugh, cry, learn, just don't be sucked in by the negative messages.
- Be aware of how much media you consumer. How long are you watching TV or movies? How long are you online? Take a break and get do something active, check out the topic Exercise for some ideas.
- Think about smoking in the movies. Is it presenting smoking as socially acceptable? Another question is, with tobacco use decreasing generally, why does smoking still appear in the movies? For further information see our topic Cigarettes and smoking.
Our environments are full of media and advertising these days. Your mental environment is one place they do not have to be. Take time away from the media just to sit and think by yourself, or talk to friends and family.
Australian Bureau of Statistics 'Children's participation in selected leisure activities' Year Book Australia 2006
Australian Council on Children and the Media - The latest Australian and international research on the effects of media on children
DuRant, R. 'Viewing professional wrestling on television and engaging in violent and other health risk behaviors'. Southern Medical Journal, February 2008; 101(2):129-137
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).