Oct 14

Fear from the media

Our opinions on the world around us and situations we see can be impacted by many factors. The media is an important part of people lives. Unfortunately, viewing the media does not always have a positive effect on people’s lives. Violence in the media not only can be followed, it can also have an effect on how people view the world around them.

People around the world are able to view television. Television is a common source of education about the world and different cultures (Schneider, 2012). This learning and understanding can be seen as the cultivation theory. While viewing television, people become aware of the world and the violence that may be happening.

With the understanding of the violence, fear begins to strike. When viewing media violence, the cultivation theory says that people may then become fearful that the world is dangerous (Schneider, 2012). If the violence is viewed more than once, then the fear will be worse.

As I think about violence in the media, I think about what fear I have due to this. Recently, I have been watching the news about a man that is on the run after killing a state police officer. Due to the fact that he has not been caught, I am fearful that he will be in a different location and close to where I live. With this fear, I have begun to think of the world and some people living in it as mean and dangerous. If people are able to kill our police, then I fear that we are not safe as well.

While media violence can be imitated, it is also a way to learn about the world and what goes on in it. When violence is viewed on the television, people are becoming aware of how dangerous situations can be. If media violence is continued to be viewed, people will be more likely the fear the world they live in.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Oct 14

Media Matters


Brian Kilmeade of Fox & Friends claimed that “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims” -Brian Kilmeade (Fox news host)

US media constantly utilize the word “terrorism” in reference to Arab,Muslim and Islamic populations and culture. This may reinforce the anti-Muslim notions and stereotypes. Although some may not recognize or believe in anti-Muslim media propaganda, it does exist. r I write this blog post in hopes that you will question what knowledge you obtain from the media. This blog post will discuss themes of  anti-Muslim propagation in the media and its effects.


We gain a lot of information from the media especially concerning world conflicts.Propaganda may be utilized to rally people behind a cause. But what happens when it is at the cost of misrepresenting and exaggerating an entire culture and population. Media propaganda refers to all media including press, radio, television, film, buttons, speeches, etc. to spread a message.


Propaganda is powerful because everyone is susceptible to it whether they realize it or not. Propaganda is a systematic process including 1) the ideology and purpose of the propaganda campaign, 2) the context in which the propaganda occurs, 3) identification of the propagandist, 4) the structure of the propaganda organization, 5) the target audience, 6) media utilization techniques, 7) special various techniques, 8) audience reaction to various techniques, 9) counter-propaganda, if present, and 10) effects and evaluation (Bruck, Manzria, 2013)


While Anti-Muslim themes have always been present in the US culture after  9/11 they have become more present and in lately have become more frequent as well as blatant in their message. Anti-Muslim media propaganda utilizes selective stories, partial facts, narrow sources of experts as well as reinforcing reasons and motivations to excite audiences. For example fox news in particular is one of the most criticized stations for anti-Muslim themes. (Please watch the video below for an elaboration)

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The term terrorist is seldom applied to governments or pro-government paramilitaries. Instead the term is applied to an entire religion. The word terrorist carries a negative stigma and is specifically used to condemn and demonize a organization or particular demographic. Propaganda tends to appeal to emotions over intellect. Propaganda has the power to affect people’s everyday life, decisions as well as preferences. Effects of propaganda may include misplaced anger, promotion of hatred of a particular group, may increase hate crimes against this culture or population as well as promote fear in the public (Turley,2012)


In order to defend against propagation we must be aware of the general perspective media utilizes to frame the problem. The public needs to demand that media be sensitive to situational demands no matter how miniscule. News stations also need to be more diligent in journalist and advise them not to use terms indiscriminately and to avoid over applying them.  Media should also offer point of both sides  not one sided stacked arguments that center around name calling. Again the meaning of this post was to encourage readers to not blindly follow the media’s perspective but to acquire knowledge about a subject and create your own.

“Propaganda becomes ineffective the moment we are aware of it”

-Joseph Goebbels


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Bruck, J., Manzaria, J.(2013)  Media’s Use of Propaganda to Persuade People’s Attitude, Beliefs and Behaviors. Retrieved from:

Turley, J. (2012) Propaganda 101: What you Need to Know and Why. Retrieved from: onathanturley.org/2012/05/20/propaganda-101-what-you-need-to-know-and-why-or/

Oct 14

It’s All Fun and Games

My nephew Jasen is 12 years old and is in 7th grade. He loves (some would say is obsessed with) video games. He lives with his grandparents and they monitor his “electronic time” very closely for precisely this reason. Recently, they caught him playing “Assassin’s Creed.” Since this video game had not been assassins-creed-deathblowpre approved by them, he was “grounded.” His response to the punishment was, “that’s not fair, it’s only a game.” Is that true? Do they have a reason to be worried? Who is right? Applied social psychology may help provide an answer.

It is proven that violent media increases aggressive behavior (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, pg 140). How likely is it that Assassin’s Creed will help my nephew learn to be violent? I will use Bandura’s social cognitive theory as a measuring stick. According to Bandura’s theory there are four processes that need to happen before this can occur: attention, representation, behavioral production, and motivation (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, pg 142). The more “Assassin’s Creed” helps to facilitate these processes, the more likely it is to teach my nephew Jasen to be violent. We will begin by taking a closer look at each process and then I will see how this video game impacts each before I render a final judgment.

So, the first process that must occur for vicarious learning is attention. Mostly, this has to do with how salient and attractive the behavior is (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012, pg 142). The second process is the representational process. This involves mentally rehearsing the behavior. The third process is behavioral production. This is learning how to take the observed behavior and apply it to related but novel behaviors. The last process that must occur is a motivational process. How bad does a person want to imitate the behavior? This is influenced by whether the behavior is punished or rewarded. Rewarded behaviors are more likely to be imitated. It is also motivating if the behavior is seen as justified. Yet another factor that motivates one to imitate violence is whether it is realistic. The last thing I will mention is whether or not the perpetrator of the violence is liked.

Now that we have a better idea of how this theory works, how does Assassin’s Creed stack up? Lets look at the first process, attention. Being that Jasen is playing the game, in other words he needs to be an active participant; it is clearly very salient to him. It is not in the background while he is doing something else. Also, it is a very exciting and action packed game. Thus, it is easy to attract and keep his attention. So the game scores high on the first process needed to facilitate imitation.

The second process, if you recall, is a representational process. I know for a fact he remembers the game because I asked him about it after he got into trouble. He emphatically recounted the “mission” he had to complete. To go along with the story, he acted out several of the solutions he had figured out along the way. He would tiptoe around the living room and jump onto the couch while he stabbed the air to show me how he snuck up and killed a guard. He was clearly mentally rehearsing what he had seen. Overall the game scores high for the second process as well.

We then move on to the third process of behavioral production. This involves taking the observed behavior and applying it to novel situations. I actually did not think much of it at the time (this incident took place before he got in trouble) but there was something that could apply to this process. I was in another room when I heard Jasen yell boo and then I heard his grandpa give a fright. Jasen then walked out into the room I occupied and told me with a big grin how he had scared his grandpa half to death. He had hidden behind the door and waited for his grandfather to pass. As his grandpa did this, Jasen leapt from his hiding spot and screamed at his bewildered grandpa. This sneaking around and pouncing is eerily familiar to the tactics used in the game. Now I am not sure how long Jasen had been playinAssassins-Creed-Fightg the game. I am also not sure if this episode was a result of having watched the game. It would not surprise me in the least if both were true however. So overall the evidence for the third process is not as strong as I would have liked but it is possible.

The last process we will examine is motivational. In the game the player is rewarded for successful assassinations by receiving new weapons and points. The next question is whether or not the violence is justified. In the game, the main character Desmond Miles is trying to stop an organization called Abstergo (who also kidnapped Desmond) from taking over the world. So clearly, Desmond is supposed to be justified in his actions. The violence is also extremely realistic as you can see from the screen shots above and at the top of the page. I would also say that Jasen definitely liked and identified with Desmond the assassin. He “is” Desmond when he plays the game. Also Desmond is a shadowy, rugged individual that seems to be an ideal in our culture.

Putting this all together, Jasen’s grandparents are wise to not let him play such a game. There is strong evidence that he would try to imitate this behavior. There is strong evidence for almost every part in Bandura’s theory. I would be especially worried because of his burgeoning cognitive abilities. A few years ago, he was not able to think in abstract terms and now he is. I feel like these new abilities make him very impressionable. Playing a game like that, at the age he is, does not seem like a good idea. Applied social psychology and the chapter on media can help explain why.


Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Oct 14


Myfitnesspal, Mydailyplate, Sparkpeople. These are just a few examples of several social media applications/websites that are utilized to gain control over ones health by serving as a platform to record food and exercise. It is not uncommon to hear about the growing trend in obesity that is plaguing the United States. The growing waistlines have spurred application and website developers to create something to help the masses find their health. It is the era of preventative medicine. But what happens when something meant to influence the population positively does just the opposite?

According to Ginny Graves’ Huffington Post article titled, “How to Know If You’re Addicted to Exercise”, young women are developing unhealthy obessions with exercise, sprouted from the influence of social media, such as fitspo photos touting near perfect fit bodies and #2aday tweets bragging about daily workouts. Dr. Jordan Metzl, M.D., a sports medicine doctor for the New York hospital for Special Surgery confirms that while daily is helpful and even recommended, “it is possible to take exercise too far.” (Graves, 2009).

Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory (1986, 2009) argues that much of what we learn is done vicariously through media via four processes: attention, representational process, behavioral production process and motivational process (Schneider,Gruman, Coutts, 2012). Applying this theory to the issue of over exercise tells us that one can be influenced by viewing fitness photos in social media, remembering the figures of fitness viewed, figure out how to perform and practice fitness activities such as dieting and exercise and lastly, are motivated by the athletic figures viewed and the goal of obtaining the same.

However, Social Cognitive Theory can also be applied in order to prevent addictive exercise behavior. Similar to Nathanson and Cantor’s (2000) study on reducing reward value in order to reduce desensitization on subject matter, social media can be used to reduce the reward value placed on exercise. Since young women are over-exercising in order to achieve the often unachieveable fit bodies represented in social media, interventions should include promoting realistic figures, diets and exercise plans that include rest. Also, if social media were to post stories of the fitness models describing how extreme and unrealistic their fitness schedules are to reduce the reward value on over exercise, this woud lead to more realistic ideas of what fitness truly is.

There are many approaches to evaluate the impact of this intervention. Social media websites and applications can use metrics to compare before and after rates of views on fitness and exercise themed photos. Gyms can use statistics to track the number of women partaking in back to back classes, or to track the average time spent in the gym during a visit, or how many same day repeat visits occur.


Graves, G. (2014) How to Know if You’re Addicted to Exercise. Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com/self

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Oct 14

The Real Beauty not Media Beauty

In today’s media it hard to escape the flawless, beautiful and strong young men and women, but are they really like this? This can be a hard image for young people to escape as the media puts so much emphasis on the ideal body image for both men and women. As a mother of two young girls I have started to pay more attention to what is out there that could potentially harm my girls’ self-esteem and confidence. The media has a plethora of images that “do not distinguish between glorified fiction and reality” and the effects on today’s youth is kind of scary (Agliata & Tantleff-Dunn, 2004). This makes me question how to educate the young not to believe everything they see when it is in their face 24/7.

girl measuring waist

There is plenty of research that provides evidence that the media plays an important role in body image and this has a great effect on adolescent girls which leads to sociocultural pressures to be thin, fit and muscular or toned (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2001). Magazines, TV shows, movies and advertising constantly show women in this ideal fit form but neglect to reveal the Photoshop, airbrush and heavy make-up used to project women flawless. This can be a deceiving image for little girls to grow up to if they are not secure in themselves and this could lead to eating disorders or excessive exercise, diet pills or other negative type decisions that could harm their body and worse their self-esteem. How can we help reduce these negative type outcomes?


Research suggests that early intervention may help decrease the negative effects that mass media has on our youth. One research study focused on “teaching recipients to be critical consumers of the media” and this kind of intervention “may reduce the likelihood of women experiencing increased body image disturbance when exposed to media images” (Posavac, H., Posavac, S., & Weigel, 2001). I believe this is a great approach to help young people not get caught in the media’s grip but teaching this will not be easy. Children have to be taught early and parents have to play a big role. I think magazines and other formats of advertising need to stop editing to the point people are flawless because in reality who really is flawless? It is our flaws that make us beautiful and those little imperfections that make us unique, it hard to understand why people want to take that away and blend in with everyone else.

I believe we should have more campaigns such as Dove, which celebrate women of all sizes and shapes and state such phrases as “imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety” (2014). More products should devote effort in campaigns to raise awareness of media’s influence and offer tools for parents and young people to learn how to love themselves exactly the way they are. This is something you have to start early for the intervention to really work and the reward of having confident youths who stand up against media is a plausible goal.

I focused more on the influence on females as there seems to be evidence that media influences females more than males. But males have their own media battle striving to increase muscle and add weight and may use supplements such as steroids to achieve this ideal image geared toward males (McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2001).I think all of youth should be taught at an early age to love themselves and not listen to what the media is showing you. Little boys and little girls shouldn’t have to worry about their weight and how they look. They should be taught how to live healthy lives and to be happy being who they are because we are all beautiful in our own unique ways. That’s the ultimate goal; at least it is for me and my girls.

Agliata, D., & Tantleff-Dunn, S. (2004). The impact of media exposure on males body image. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 23(1), 7-22.http://arapaho.nsuok.edu/~scottd/image-1.pdf

Dove. (2014). Unilever. http://realbeautysketches.dove.us/

McCabe, M., & Ricciardelli, L. (2001). Parent, peer and media influences on body image and strategies to both increase and decrease body size among adolescent boys and girls. Adolescence, 36(142), 225-240.http://dro.deakin.edu.au/eserv/DU:30001199/mccabe-parentpeer-2001.pdf

Posavac, H. D., Posavac, S. S., & Weigel, R. G. (2001). Reducing the impact of media images on women at risk for body image disturbance: Three targeted interventions. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 20(3), 324-340.http://guilfordjournals.com/doi/pdf/10.1521/jscp.20.3.324.22308

Oct 14

Why All The Violence?

In a world such as ours today with troubles overseas, environmental hazards, political issues, and deficit crunches that frighten individuals to worry about another Great Depression, do we need media hyping violence and bloody killings viewed by our youth and adolescents via the social media?  The media is a powerful tool to influence the way in which people cognitively breaks down issues and behaves as a result of what they are visually being exposed to.


I recently viewed a program where two girls, age 12, in Waukesha, Wisconsin were charges as adults for attempting to murder their friend in an effort to prove loyalty to a fictional character on the Internet.  “Slender Man” is a faceless creature who talks and terrorizes people, especially children.  To most youngsters, they are not sure if he is real or fictional.  However, these two girls were convinced that he was a real person and they wanted to prove their loyalty to him by killing their best friend.  They took her into the woods and viciously stabbed her 19 times this past summer.  They showed no remorse, and both girls were absolutely numb and desensitized by the violence that they had performed.  Miraculously, their friend survived the brutal stabbings.  This behavior is directly linked to the media that encourages such violence via the Internet.


Not only can violent exposure by viewers create deviant and aggressive behaviors and thoughts, but more crucial than this can be the impact it can leave on the audience.  A desensitizing effect, which can reduce empathy towards others, can supersede all this exposure from television and movies.  Media violence can create havoc and a downward trend on qualities that lie within an individual to cause them to become blind sighted by the feelings of others (Stampler, 2014). As in the case of these two 12- year olds, their violent behaviors did not have any impact on their feelings or actions.  There was no remorse whatsoever.  They became numb and desensitized to the brutality that they displayed.


Increased aggression is the framework of social cognitive theory by has individuals view media violence.  Also, it can involve an individual to view aggression as an acceptable tool, which will ultimately reduce empathy for a victim who is suffering   (Bushman & Anderson, 2009; Huesmann & Miller, 1994).


Regarding our children and adolescents, the mental maturity of the child depends on different stages of his cognitive development regarding media violence.  These factors regarding the cognitive development can depict how the violence is perceived and interpreted, along with the exposure and consequences of it.  The exposure to media violence such as movies, video games and television can present a major risk to their health, both physically and mentally.  Evidence has proven that media violence can encourage and instill desensitization to violence in children, as well.  They can become violent; suffer from nightmares, and exhibit and aggressive behavior.


Interaction needs to play a role in the violence that is portrayed and exonerated by social media.  Children need more literacy interaction, and a medium that leans toward sound educational programs that will be useful and effective.  Exposure to interactive media that encourages violence can lead to negative effects regarding the mental and physical health of children.  Not only does it encourage violence, but it leads to pro-social behaviors in children.    Video games allow the player to become the aggressor who in turn is rewarded by successfully performing violent behaviors.  This type of interaction cam encourages children and youth to demonstrate patterns of pathologic actions through their playing these types of games.  It also encourages the violence through this type of media interaction (Funk, 2004).


Interactions for children and adolescents need to be taken whether it be by the pediatricians or parents who deal with the children.  Pediatricians can entertain children in their waiting rooms through educational video games and television networking, and promote education.  At home parents need to supervise the timeframe that their children spend on the Internet, forms of media, and videos that encourage violence.  More educational and soothing forms of media should be encouraged.  Parents should supervise more activities and programs that their children become involved with.  Hopefully in time, the scale will be heavily geared toward media that instills learning and caring qualities that allow adolescents to function as righteous, sympathetic human beings to others and themselves in the real world as opposed to individuals become numb, desensitized and lacking empathy towards others..






Bushman, B., & Anderson, C. (2009). Comfortably numb: Desensitizing effects of violent media on helping others.  Psychological Science, 20, 273-277.


Funk, J. B., Baldacci, H. Pasold, T. and Baumgardner, J. (2004). Violence exposure in real-life, video games, television, movies, and the internet: Is there desensitization?” Journal of Adolescence. 27(1) 23-29.


Huesmann, L. R., & Miller, L. S. (1994). Long-term effects of repeated exposure to media violence in childhood.  In L. R. Huesmann (Ed.), Aggressive behavior: Current perspectives (pp. 153-168). New York, NY:Plenum Press.


Stampler, L. (2014). ‘Slender Man’ Internet Meme Inspires Two 12-Year-Olds To Attempt Murder.  Time. Retrieved October 20, 2014: http://time.com/2817624/slender-man-murder-charge-waukesha/

Oct 14

Media Violence

While the media has shown how useful and positive it can be in out lies, it also comes with a lot of negative aspects that can be brought into our lives. Adolescents specifically spend a large amount of time using on or more forms of media. In 2009, adolescents spent close to eleven hours a day being exposed to media (Schneider, 2012). Some of this media is informational and educational. Others are exposing adolescents to violence, sex, and health while changing their thoughts on these points.

Media violence is seen in many different programs. While it is not uncommon to go through the television and see people fighting or even shooting other people, these situations are also played out in video games as well. Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of the consequences it has on their children. These facts are important to know especially because about 85% of television shows have violence in them (Schneider, 2012 ).

In studies, it is found that the cathartic effect does not happen with TV violence. With this being said, viewing the violence on television does not relieve stress and help with aggression (Schneider, 2012 ). While watching television shows with violence, it is likely that those watching it are learning how to imitate the violence. This is supported with the social cognitive learning theory. This theory had four different processes that help with the imitation of violence. Attention, representational process, behavioral production process, and motivational process are those that are seen in this theory. This is because often, we learn what we watch through the media (Schneider, 2012 ).

While learning this, I think about my older brother’s son. He is a five year old boy that loves to watch wrestling. Although we try to explain to him that he cannot do what he sees on television, he often tries to do the moves that he has seen the wrestlers do. Unfortunately, wrestling gets his attention. With the representational process, the behavior is being remembered and modeled. As I think about my nephew, he does remember everything he watching on wrestling and attempts to model what he views. While my nephew watches the wrestlers hit each other, he then generalizes this to do the same to his dad and sister. This is the behavioral production process. While watching him wrestle my brother and niece, he often does a few of his favorite moves. This motivational process allows him to perform the moves that he is most motivated to perform.

As children are viewing the media, they are learning violence and changing how they think about the violence. While parents are not always aware of how this can hurt their children, it is important for them to be educated about it. The social cognitive theory allows people to understand how children watching violent media are learning how to imitate it. Unfortunately, this can result in others getting hurt when the violence is imitated.



Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Oct 14

Violence and Mainstream Media

Columbine High School Massacre

April 20, 1999 – two teenagers walked into their high school in Littleton Colorado armed with guns and killed 14 of their fellow students, and wounding 21 others before taking their own lives (A&E Television, 2014). The gunman – Fylan Klebold, and Eric Harris – were believed to have been a part of a social outcasts group that called themselves the “Trenchcoat Mafia” which is why they committed the crimes. However, during this time mainstream media including music, television, and video games were to blame. In particular – during this time shock rocker Marilyn Manson was made the scapegoat for the murders because of his music, and the way he presented his art. It was later shown that the two gunman never listened to Marilyn Manson.

School shootings have continued through the years after the massacre at Columbine. The worst school shooting topping Columbine in United States history happened April 16, 2007 at Virginia tech where 33 people including the gunman were murdered (A&E Television, 2014). The school shootings following Columbine have created, in my mind, the question of whether or not the students that are engaging in these acts are imitating those that came before them through vicarious learning.

Vicarious learning (performing a particular behavior because one observes the behavior being rewarded) is the principle of Bandura’s social cognitive theory of mass communication (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). Rewarding behavior? How were the school shooters rewarded, and how can this influence future school shooters? When extreme violence occurs, such as a school shooting, the media flocks to the story and continuously replays the details over and over. It becomes nearly impossible for anyone to not know who the suspects are in the situation. All of a sudden within a few hours – two kids from Littleton Colorado – have gone down in United States history as conducting one of the most heinous crimes. They are now celebrity. People will always know who they are. If that is not one of the biggest rewards for this unfathomable act of violence, than I do not know what is. Meanwhile the victims remain unknown for the most part. Children see this reward system and may become motivated to do it bigger and better because they know if they top the last guy, they will become even more famous. People will know them forever.

The media in part aids in the desensitization of violence through video games, television shows, and the news (Schneider et al., 2012). Desensitization of violence only increases people’s tendencies to act aggressively and violently due increasing their tolerance of violence while decreasing their desire to not act aggressively (Schneider et al., 2012). Desensitization along with the rewards of being violent – are a recipe for disaster.

In closing, I would like to leave you with the following quote by Marilyn Manson when he addressed the topic of Blame and Violence (videos can be found on YouTube for those interested in listening to the entire 12 minute speech). I feel this quote asks a very important question that each of us adults sincerely needs to sit and ponder.

Shock Rocker Marilyn Manson

“Is adult entertainment killing our children, or is killing our children entertaining adults? And I think that is the kind of question we need to ask ourselves today. And you have to ask yourself that every time you watch the hungry cameras at the crime scene, or at the funeral, or at the plane crash, interviewing the victim. You know, 24 hour footage watching the guy blow his brains out on the L.A. freeway.” – Marilyn Manson

Columbine High School Massacre. (2014). Retrieved October 26, 2014, from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/columbine-high-school-massacre
Schneider, F.W., Gruman, J.A., & Coutts, L.M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (Second ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Oct 14

Our own thoughts VS. Media Influence

Media in today’s society is our life line. It comes in many different forms to match your personal pleasures. There is magazines, newspapers, internet, television, news, radio, and of course social media sites. I am sure I missed many examples but I think we all get the point. Every day we are connected to media through technology whether it be our televisions, radios in our car, and probably the most common in today’s society our cell phones. Through these advancements in technology we are able to consistently check media and see and hear it at a moment’s notice. There are many issues that arise with this. Media can affect relationships, consume our time and most concerning influence our opinions and thoughts.
Most often we see the influences that media has when we see news reports on legal cases or tragedy’s such as bullying and natural disasters. When we hear or see negative media about a specific subject we have already formed our own opinions or thoughts about we may become swayed but information the media provides that is not always accurate. Also we may conform to social norms and begin to change our opinions based on what society believes acceptable behaviors to be (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). A perfect example of this is Jurors in a legal case. Twelve men and women are chosen to decide the fate of an individual who may have committed a crime. These jurors in severe cases are directed not to speak to anyone from the media they are not allowed to read newspapers or watch the news or discuss the case. This is solely to make sure their opinions are not influenced by media.

Schneider et al (2012) give a great example of this when they discuss how drugs in the 1980s became a big concern because of the media’s coverage of it. This is what is called agenda setting meaning that the media will influence what we feel is important in society. According to Schnieder et al (2012) “The media did not influence weather people thought the use of drugs was wrong , media coverage of the drug issue resulted in people thinking that the drug issue was an important one.” Issues such as these were distributed through media which has developed as technology has developed.

A perfect example of how media can influence our opinions would be social networking. Facebook is a great example of this. In this week’s lesson in PSYCH424 from Penn State we learned about how affective Facebook has been on influencing society. According to this weeks lesson “People who were once isolated due to their beliefs or interests not fitting into their local community/culture can now find others who share those beliefs or interests and reduce their own loneliness.”(PSYCH424, PSU Lesson 9, Page 3). This seems great, right? Not always sometimes we become so lonely that these people can influence our thoughts and opinions. Facebook used to be just a site to catch up with friends and family however as it has grown it has now become a site to share other media sites, pictures, and opinions. For myself when scanning Facebook posts more than 50% of them are now ‘you may be interested in” or advertisements or links that people post about news, natural disasters and information from news outlets that are sometimes not credible sources. Many people take these links and articles seriously even though they are incorrect and will form opinions about a situation based on that.

Recently there was several attacks on Canadian military. Several service men were killed, the media right away insisted that the attacks were in the name of Islam. This alone became a dangerous influence on the community the attacks occurred in as well as on those who worship as Muslims. This is much like when the attacks of September 11th occurred in the United States. We needed someone to blame someone to be held responsible so of course when they media begins to plant ideas we right away attach to them. The media solely has been responsible for the opinions we have formed of Muslims in today’s society and sadly we have conformed to their influence and without knowing much about the religion we group those who are Muslims together treat them different than others and for negative opinions of them. In a media article published by CBC news in Canada the National Counsel of Canadian Muslims denounced and denied any involvement in the attacks and indicate they to as Canadians felt attacked and that anyone performing acts of violence is not a representation of Islam (CBC News 2012). However why is it that we choose to believe others who speak about these individuals rather than those representing the religion? Often we need to detach ourselves from media and others to form our own opinions.

Ottawa shooting: Canadian Muslims denounce attacks. (2014, October 23). Retrieved from CBC News Ottawa: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/ottawa-shooting-canadian-muslims-denounce-attacks-1.2810489
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2014, October). PSYCH 424 Lesson 9:
Media/Communications Technology. Retrieved from
Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Social Psychology. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, INC.

Oct 14

Social Media Addiction?


I found this an interesting subject due to the fact this week we are centered on the media. There was a lot of mention of how the media affects peoples health, self-perception, and social status so I thought to myself could this be an addiction? The only (non-substance related) behavioral disorder listed in the new DSM-V is gambling addiction. This is because there is not yet enough scientific evidence to show that they truly are an addiction or disorder. So as of yet we do not classify internet or social media overuse an addiction or a disorder. But many psychologist believe that it fits under the criteria of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Either way it is something that has shown increasing popularity with the media enough to be considered a definite issue. What has spurred increasing interest has been the growing popularity with such social media starting with Myspace and now such social media sites as Facebook and Twitter.

The big question is why do people seem to get so hooked on social media and why do they feel the need to keep buried in their smart phones and computer screens on these sites? Some statistics have shown that people spend more than three plus hours a day on social media sites and seemly much more in some cases. Some psychologists believe that people who spend such a significant amount of time on social media are trying to fill a psychological void that they are lacking in their normal lives. Is it that we are for some reason lacking a connection or intimacy in our relationships that somehow is being or is trying to be met through social media?  Another hypothesis given for the compulsion to use social media is given by Dr. David Greenfield, the director of the Center of internet and technology addiction which he notes that “social media is the first time in human history where we have the opportunity to broadcast to everyone on the planet.” Which he describes can be very intoxicating and pleasurable experience. Although the internet and social media is not considered an addiction currently I could see how replacing it for a substance in the DSM-V  how many of the criterion could be met with the over use of social media. Lets take look at them:

The DSM-5 defines a substance use disorder as the presence of at least 2 of 11 criteria, which are clustered in four groups:

1. Impaired control: (1) taking more or for longer than intended, (2) unsuccessful efforts to stop or cut down use, (3) spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from use, (4) craving for substance.
2. Social impairment: (5) failure to fulfill major obligations due to use, (6) continued use despite problems caused or exacerbated by use, (7) important activities given up or reduced because of substance use.
3. Risky use: (8) recurrent use in hazardous situations, (9) continued use despite physical or psychological problems that are caused or exacerbated by substance use.
4. Pharmacologic dependence: (10) tolerance to effects of the substance, (11) withdrawal symptoms when not using or using less.*

Although it could not meet all of these because of it being a behavior and not a substance it does make one wonder. On the obsessive compulsive side of the social media as a possible disorder argument it does seem that people who over use social media obsess over viewing it and it is a very anxiety relieving activity to check on there “choice of site”. Either side of the argument you want to be on it is somewhat scary that our society is so drawn to it seemingly many times over normal social interaction. I don’t think that we will begin opening social media treatment centers anytime soon but if you do feel you use social media excessively and you see it as causing some sort of negative issues you may need to take some necessary steps. It is suggested to build support and let others know this is causing an issue, find other activities that replace the time on social media, and limit times to curtail social media use. If all else fails you may need to go the complete abstinence route and get rid of those accounts!

Rhea, D. (2009, Nov 24). Social media magnifies internet addiction. Journal Record Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/259556501?accountid=13158

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and
statistical manual of mental disorders
(5th ed.). Washington, DC:  Author.



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