Are Media Effects real? Do we need to worry about them? Are you impacted by the media? If so, in what way….content? Time spent?
Key Idea • We need to realize that there are many factors in the effects process. • What is the third person effect? • In the third person effect people report that others are more strongly influenced by the mass media than they themselves are. • Thus, adults believe that younger people are more affected by the media than they are. Even older children believe they are less influenced by the media than younger children.
Audiences are varied and active Different audiences have different responses to media messages. Some people believe and accept the message, others reject it using knowledge from their own experience or can use processes of logic or other rationales to criticize what is being said.
Early media Effects Theory Effects Analysis—Hypodermic Needle Model or the Magic Bullet Theory • Developed in the 1920s • The first theory to explain how mass audiences might react to mass media • This theory suggests that, as an audience, we are manipulated by the creators of media texts, and that our behavior and thinking might be easily changed by media-makers. • It assumes that the audience is passive and heterogeneous. This theory is still quoted during moral panics. • Is it satisfactory?
Baseline Factors • Everyone is affected by the media differently. • Developmental Maturities • Cognitive Abilities • Knowledge Structures • Media Exposure Habits
Baseline Factors • How much the media impacts us depends on a lot of things. • How affected a person is will be shaped by factors in our own lives and personalities. • Since people are at different levels of maturity, cognitive development and experience….the effects of the same content will understandably vary.
Developmental Maturities: As people mature and develop they process information more carefully. (Old lady and cat, glass example, ET example) Developmental maturity changes as people age.
Cognitive Abilities: Cognition has to do with how a person understands and acts in the world. It is a set of abilities, skills or processes. Your cognitive ability has an impact on how much the media effects you. It is the ability to analyze media content to identify key plot points, etc.
Knowledge Structures: People’s knowledge structures impact how affected they are by media. If a person’s knowledge is made up mostly of info from the media then their information is dominated by media generalizations. This makes media a powerful socializer- because it cannot be checked against real life.
Knowledge Structures Stanley Fish- Interpretive Communities • Fish's theory states that a text does not have meaning outside of a set of cultural assumptions regarding both what the characters mean and how they should be interpreted. • Fish claims that we interpret texts because we are part of an interpretive community that gives us a particular way of reading a text.
Interpretive Communities • Groups who interpret texts similarly because they share similar social positions and experiences. • New Yorkers might view a film about NY differently than people from Arizona because they share a code based on geographic location. • But, people belong to MANY interpretive communities and sometimes one type of interpretation supersedes others.
Try this….. • Did you know that Pam was going to wear her grandmother's wedding dress? That gave her something that was old, and borrowed, too. It was made of lace over satin, with very large puff sleeves and looked absolutely charming on her. • Interpret the meaning…..
How might others interpret? • Without intentional distortion, one Indian reader commented: • 'She looked all right except the dress was too old and out of fashion'. • Where might that interpretation come from? Is it different than your own?
Media Literacy and Blame • Recognize there are multiple influences
Media Violence • This is one of the areas that raises the most concern with regard to media effects. • Does media violence lead to aggression? • Is this something that should concern us?
How Violent are American Media?Conservative estimates.....people see about 1000 murders, rapes or assaults on TV alone. • Could be up to 10 thousand per year. And that’s just TV. The rate of violence is fairly steady....but all violence is not the same....Is the violence on Schindler's List the same as the violence in The Bourne Idenitity? Is one better than the other?
Symbolic (or historical) Violence typically deals with portrayals of actual historical events like in Schindler’s List. It encourages audiences to think critically about the way violence is connected to hatred and social injustice. • Ritualistic Violence generates mostly emotional excitement. It is pure spectacle. These are fast faced, adrenaline pumping, sensational, hyper masculine.
3 possible effects of Media Violence • Aggression (Both Physical and Social) • Anxiety or The Mean World Syndrome • Desensitization
Aggression- Physical and Social • Physical aggression are physical acts of harm. • Social aggression involves acts that are intended to harm others emotionally rather than physically. Examples: gossiping, spreading rumors, socially isolating others etc. Email and chat rooms seems to be a common way to enact social aggression. • Research suggests the media may contribute to social aggression. One content analysis found that 92 percent of programs popular with adolescents contained acts of social or indirect aggression….especially among female characters. • One study found media exposure led to physical aggression in boys and social aggression in girls.
Anxiety or Mean World Syndrome Extensive exposure to media violence can lead to a greater sense of apprehension, mistrust and insecurity about the real world. In other words, violence in the media can alter a person’s perceptions of social reality in a way that matches the TV world. Heavy users of media come to see the world as more violent. Frequent viewers of TV perceive the world as a more violent place than it actually is.
Desensitization • Desensitization is the idea that extensive exposure to a stimulus can lead to reduced emotional responsiveness to it. • Research shows that repeated exposure to media violence may result in decreased arousal. • Desensitization may affect responses to real life violence and even affect people’s willingness to intervene or take action on behalf of a victim.
Things that affect the likelihood of learning aggressive behavior. • An attractive perpetrator increases the risk of learning aggression. Children and adults are more likely to identify with and learn from attractive role models than unattractive ones. • The motive or reason for the violence is important. Violent actions that seem justified or morally defensible can facilitate viewer aggression, where unjustified violence can diminish the risk of learning aggression. • Violence that seems realistic can promote the learning of aggressive attitudes and behaviors. • Violence that is explicitly rewarded or goes unpunished increases the risk of imitative aggression. • Explicit portrayals of a victim’s physical injury and pain can decrease the learning of aggression. • Violence that is portrayed as humorous can increase aggression because it trivializes the violence.
Video Games A different kind of Media Effect
Clips • NYT : Games Theory • http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/09/15/magazine/1248069030957/games-theory.html?scp=1&sq=games%20theory&st=cse • NYT: Immersion • http://video.nytimes.com/video/2008/11/21/magazine/1194833565213/immersion.html?scp=2&sq=games%20theory&st=cse • Video Games Teach PBS • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/learning/games-that-teach/video-games-101.html?play
Why are video games so popular? Why do kids play? • Kids play video games to • (1) control the environment • (2) to vicariously experiencethings like other places and times • (3) to compete • (4) to safely explore different situations
What is a “flow” state? • Flow is a term used to describe the intense feelings of enjoyment that occur when a balance between skill and challenge is attained in an activity that is rewarding. • Flow state may enhance learning and make a person more susceptible to suggestion. • The experience of being absorbed is an important aspect of game playing.
What is the problem with the ESRB rating categories? How is that problem exacerbated by play on the web? • The ratings do not always correspond to content as perceived by consumers. • Lack of compliance with sales of games based on ratings. Kids can purchase above their ratings level. There is a failure to enforce ratings. • Parents are not always familiar with the rating system. • Ratings by the ESRB do not give information about game content. They also do not give info about age appropriateness of content. • Finally- games played online or modified using online programs cannot be rated because the action/behavior of other players is impossible to determine.
Why are the effects of video games different than the effects of other media like television viewing? • Video games are interactive and are frequently played over and over! • Players are actually doing the action, learning the methods and being rewarded for winning thus possibly reinforcing those ideas. • Players engage in observation, practice and reinforcement which may serve to internalize certain behaviors in the game. (It might also assist in the creation of behavioral scripts. – more on this TK)
How might a child’s “script” creation be impacted by playing violent games? • Scripts may be triggered by internal or situational cues, causing people to behave based on internalized guidelines. • Scripts tend to increase efficiency for people but they may sometimes cause people to disregard new information. • During childhood, scripts are constantly being developed and revised. • In theory, a child could develop and internalize scripts for situations that trigger aggression based in part on playing violent video games. • Exposure to violent video games can prime existing aggressive scripts, if this happens over and over, those scripts become more easily accessible to guide behavior. • More realistic games may be even more likely to foster script development because they add a sort of realism and credibility.
If a child develops scripts from video game violence with no consequences, what might be the impact? • If scripts are developed through playing violent video games- thus through unreal violence with no negative consequences- then the child’s response to violence in real life may be influenced. • The child will be less sensitive to true consequences of violence (emotional desensitization) and may believe that violence is a reasonable alternative to many interpersonal situations (cognitive desensitization).
Can video games be pro-social? How? • Like any media product, video games can teach kids positive values and/or skills. • Games can raise public awareness and empower youth to work for social change. • Games can develop critical thinking about issues where there is no single right answer and difficult choices must be made. • Games can teach sympathy or empathy with minority groups. • Games can provide a forum to examine difficult mental health issues/feelings in a safe environment. • Additionally, some games are educational and deliver instructor or other messages packaged as entertainment.
What can parents do to make video game play more positive, or at least, less negative? • Parents must realize that popular video games often have very violent content and that the ratings don’t explicitly mention all the things a player might encounter during play. • Parents need to become informed about the content of their kid’s favorite games by playing the games and trying to get through the most levels…..or by asking someone who sells the games about the content. • Parents can help by sensitizing kids to the messages about violence so kids think about the validity of these messages. • Parents can counter the desensitizing impact of games by sharing their own ideas about how to solve problems and the use of violence to solve problems. They can discuss the real life consequences of violence.
Censorship probably not the answer. Especially not for older people. • Media Literacy a more practical solution. Media literacy just involves teaching people to be critical of media content. • Often framed in terms of kids but useful for everyone.
Let’s watch some clips: • Media Smarts: Kids Learn How to Navigate the Multimedia World • http://www.edutopia.org/media-literacy-skills-video • What is Media Literacy? • http://mediaeducationlab.com/what-media-literacy-0
People who want change suggest several solutions: • Government censorship- practically impossible because of free expression laws. • Regulation- putting limits on certain content, for example, limiting advertising during children’s programming. • Reform- getting media producers to create more responsible content • Media Education/Literacy- teaching kids to analyze media content
What is Media Literacy? • Media Literacy is “the ability to analyze, access, and produce media in a variety of forms and contexts and a desire to act upon such abilities in a manner that benefits a healthy and democratic citizenship.”
How do some proponents of traditional literacy interpret media literacy? • Many English teachers view media literacy as teaching another kind of reading, another literacy. People should learn how to read movie, television, the Internet and other nontraditional image based texts, learning their techniques and strategies, just like one learns to read traditional text based media.
Media Literacy can teach: • Information about the media. • Skills for analyzing media. • Techniques of media production • Strategies of active involvement in media related issues.
Best Practices for Media Literacy? • Media education must be involving and entertaining. • Using media examples is important. • Insert information in a way that seems natural when it comes up while critically assessing examples. • Media criticism is not media education. Media literacy is not about judging media content but about teaching literacy and critical thinking skills. • Teach about the reality of media techniques. • The process is more important than the content. ML should focus on skills more than content.
6 principles of effective media literacy • All media messages are constructed. • Each medium has a unique language of construction • Media messages are produced for particular purposes. • All media messages contain embedded values and points of view. • People use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media texts. • Media can influence beliefs, values, behaviors and attitudes.
5 Key Questions of ML • Who created this message and what is the purpose? • What creative techniques are used to attract and hold my attention? • How might different people understand this message differently? • What values, lifestyles, and points of view are represented in this message? • What is omitted from this message?
When is Media Production a useful component of Media Education? • Media production might not be useful if it ends up being a waste of time and money. • Production can be very expensive and the meaning of the lesson can get lost in the technical issues. At the same time, having kids produce their own media can help them really understand that media messages are constructed. • For example, reporting on a story can help them understand how a narrative is constructed from a point of view. Editing their own photos can help them understand how much the computer can manipulate images, etc…..
Media Literacy Emphasizes: • Critical thinking skills that allow audiences to develop independent judgment about media content. • An understanding of the process of mass communication. • An awareness of the impact of media on the individual and society. • The development of strategies with which to discuss and analyze media messages. • An awareness of media content as a text that provides insight into our contemporary culture and ourselves. • Learning how to best enjoy, understand and appreciate media content. • In the case of media makers, the ability to make effective and responsible media messages.
Group Exercise: Create ML Lesson It could be for kids, for media producers, for parents. Pick your target. 1. First think of what you are trying to teach- so your objective. Clearly state that. 2. Then explain WHY this lesson is so important, why people need to know this. 3. Then come up with the main lesson or how you’re going to teach this. 4. Finally, explain why THIS lesson plan is a good way to teach THIS point.
Ideas…. • Cyberbullying, social networks, gender in media, body image and media, consumerism and media, health and screen time, violence and media, news stories and context etc….