The media is a crucial element of the socialization process and usually imposes significant effects on the societal behavior and thinking. The impacts of the media on society can be either positive or negative, with the critics suggesting that the media tends to weaken the capacity of an individual to act or behave autonomously because it connects individuals to the world, resulting in the self-image of society (Greenblatt 773). Irrespective of this critic, it is evident that the media enhances information flow, offers an opportunity for varying socio-cultural and political viewpoints. While the media may have negative impacts on society, it is apparent that the positive impacts outweigh the negative impacts; therefore, the media can be used as an effective instrument for social change.
Greenblatt (780) argues that the media facilitates speedy availability of information, which makes it one of the most effective sources that can be used to express public opinion. This means that the media serves to lessen the gap between leaders and the people by establishing forms of communication. For instance, the mass media provides a framework through which the government can inform its citizens on the existing government policies and the rationale for changing the previous policies. This is attained using newspapers, televisions and the internet. The expansion of mass media can be used a tool for social control by the government and an opportunity through which the public can keep checking the government (Altman 251).
The media has played a crucial role in the promotion of social causes such as education and literacy, health issues, AIDS awareness and other core issues affecting the society. Through the agenda-setting theory, the media highlights some of the social issues affecting the society. The power of the media has the capability of transforming the society if used constructively, especially in relation to increasing the awareness of human rights. Furthermore, the media makes significant contributions towards transforming the socio-cultural values in society. This is attributed to its persuasive nature and can be used to influence behavior and attitude of individuals positively (Greenblatt 785). The fundamental argument is that media is central towards societal building that its significance cannot be ignored. The media has overwhelming responsibilities in a manner that the society is usually affected by its roles. People usually believe in what the media informs them, and change their minds and thoughts in accordance to the information provided by the media (Altman 255).
On the other hand, the media has negative impacts on society because of it is extremely influential in nature. Triplett (330) argues that the media has the capacity of adversely affecting the thinking capacity of people by instilling destructive thinking and behavioral patterns on the larger society. Since media is persuasive and people believe in media projections because it can create and change opinions, there is the likelihood the media can depict an ordinary thing in a negative tone, which may force people to think and behave negatively. For instance, the media influences the gender socialization process by instilling their gender ideologies on the public. The media has glorified the athletic male as an ideal depiction of masculinity (Triplett 322). Similarly, femininity is shaped by media ideologies such as small waists and large breasts. Media also idolizes violence through influential graphic descriptions that are likely to be detrimental on the thinking patterns and behavior of children. The destructive psychological impacts of media are manifested through altering the manner in which people perceive life. The media is one of the prevalent sources of perceiving the larger society; it has altered the socio-cultural values of the society. Whereas a limited exposure to the media is crucial in perceiving the outside world, excessive exposure imposes negative impacts on the societal well-being (Triplett 328 (Triplett)).
In conclusion, it is apparent that the positive impacts of the media on society outweigh the negative impacts. It is important to take into consideration the powerful influence that the media has on society. As a concluding remark, the persuasive and influential characteristic of the media should be used to instill positive social change.