HSI, Class 7: Broadening Our Perspective on Media Effects

Media Routines: A College Student Perspective

Common results of their reported media diet and exposure:

  • Consumed media in the dorms or on-campus
  • Engaged in media consumption rather than media creation (yet, media creation like making a video/music, writing a blog, journaling can be much more relaxing and cathartic)
  • Music, social media, Netflix, and texting were common
  • News consumption and reading for fun were least common, but we know that news consumption and reading for fun are two of the BEST activities to improve your learning
While TV-viewing is a normal and common media behavior, binge-watching over long periods of time should be taken seriously. We need to critically reflect upon why we are binge watching. Are we avoiding anything in our lives? Are we seeking validation or connection in places that cannot provide that to us? We always need to be mindful about why we engage in our media behaviors.

Problem of turning to phones when bored

  • The value of being still is not taught anymore
  • Clearing your mind and allowing yourself to ponder, reflect, and create ideas can help us relax and reduce anxiety
  • College students reported feeling shy, quiet, or awkward when she/he didn’t have their phones to distract them in social situations
  • Start practicing being an interactive, friendly, and open human now, before you get to college.
  • HSI helps you make that first step. Encourage yourself to practice striking up conversations with new people at school. That’s what you’ll need to do in college to make friends.

Students reported a wide variety of media impacts, but common examples were:

  • Body image: The media that we consume negatively impacts our confidence. Why would you keep exposing yourself to someone who constantly makes fun of you? Think of media consumption of distorted body images the same way. Don’t expose yourself to media that glorifies unrealistic body images. If you do expose yourself, be sure you remember that advertising purposefully distorts body image and entertainment media does not promote healthy body image role models (for the most part). Advertising works because it convinces us that our current state/self is not good enough; advertising tells us that we need their product/service to make our lives better. Advertising preys on our uncertainty and vulnerability. Be aware of this. Think of this when you’re purchasing any products that deal in body image.
Some companies will emphasize the individual and capitalize on our self-involved/ego-driven desires to sell products.
Magazine covers are great examples of using body image and relationship insecurity/uncertainty to sell a media product.
  • Romantic expectations: The media does not tell stories of realistic romance. Media love stories are fantastical, whimsical, and funny, but oftentimes don’t show the hard work, dedication, grit, challenges, tragedies, and sometimes just plain mundane-ness of real love.
This quote accurately describes what kinds of expectations we should have about our relationships. Our relationships shouldn’t have the same expectations that we see in movies, TV shows, and books.
  • Limited view of world by narrow exposure to news: We realized that there is so much more to news than what we see on our social media feeds or what’s on TV. Expose yourself to different news media, like the BBC, Al Jazeera English, NPR, PBS, your local newspaper, The Denver Post, and more.
Avoid thinking that the Wyoming and the US is the only state/country on the planet that’s worth thinking about and learning about. Explore other places, perspectives, and people by reading news. Plus, it’s always interesting to understand what other people and places think about Wyoming/the US.

Broadening Our Perspective on Media Effects

Key Idea:

When we take a four-dimensional perspective of effects, we can better appreciate the broad range of effects the media are constantly exerting on us.

1. Timing of Effects

  • Immediate: During or immediately after exposure (e.g., screaming during a horror movie)
  • Long-term: Show up after many exposures; slow and gradual (e.g., stereotype development)
  • Immediate effects are easier to notice

2. Type of Effects

  • Cognitive: Media can immediately plant ideas and information in our thoughts.
  • Belief: Media can illustrate beliefs (faith that something is real or true)
  • Attitudinal: Media can influence our evaluative judgments (attitudes rely on beliefs)
  • Emotional: Media can trigger an emotional reaction (immediate or long-term)
  • Physiological: Media can arouse or calm you (beyond conscious control: blood pressure, heart rate, pupils)
  • Behavioral: Media can trigger behavior (immediate or long-term)
  • Macro: Media influence society’s structure: politics, family composition, religion, etc.

3. Valence of Effects

Positive or negative direction: Value-laden

Individual perspective

  • Example (Positive): Influence of YouTube on learning about your course
  • Example (Negative): Influence of YouTube on learning how to become anorexic

Societal perspective

  • Example (Positive): Media promote peace, cooperation, and health through coverage of the Olympics
  • Example (Negative): Media promote perceptions of crime and violence

4. Intentionality of Effects

  • Expose ourselves to media for certain reason: intended effect
  • Unintended effects occur often when we are in state of automaticity
  • Simultaneous intended and unintended
  • Actively analyze and evaluate messages to gain more control

Don’t Be a Faulty Thinker

Do not:

Have a narrow perspective on media effects

Believe that media effects only happen to other people


Take a broader perspective on media effects

With that, you’ll have more awareness and control over what media effects you desire and what you want to avoid

Media Effects Bingo

Goal: Familiarize yourself with the 4-dimensional perspective on media effects

Task: Listen to scenario. Cross out square when you match a scenario to the media effect. Keep track of which scenarios go where on your BINGO sheet. Be ready to justify each scenario.


About The Author

I'm a faculty member in Communication & Journalism at the University of Wyoming. At UW, I have taught online journalism, advanced new media, introduction to mass media, politics and media, and alternative media. At Ohio State, where I got my PhD, I taught research methods, news reporting and writing, visual communication, and persuasion. My reserach focuses on political communication, emerging media platforms, and entertainment media. In my spare time, I love to play with my daughters, hang out with my family, cook, hike, jog, read, and blog.