The debate of how media affects the audience has been going on for a long time. It relates to how some people believe that video games, movies and TV shows cause violent behaviour.

some examples are that

Industrial revolution – loads of people moved from villages to bigger towns with industry to create cities. It is believed that the Church lost it’s guidance on the people and they believed that mass media

There are 5 different theories that scientists have put forward to either suggest that media has a negative impact or not.

  • The Hypodermic Needle Theory – This theory says that the media are to blame for violence in society, they say that it can have very negative effects. They say that the media has more influence than anything else. They say that passive audiences are “injected” with ideas, beliefs, messages, values, morals. They say that our behaviour is easily and directly shaped by these media messages. They also point out that one of the ways media influences us using advertising as billions are spent in advertising.                                              E.G; OFCOM have a broadcaster’s code of conduct, one of these rules is the “9pm watershed”( The watershed only applies to television. The watershed is at 2100. Material unsuitable for children should not, in general, be shown before 2100 or after 0530. On premium subscription film services which are not protected as set out in Rule 1.24, the watershed is at 2000. There is no watershed on premium subscription film services or pay per view services which are protected as set out in Rule 1.24 and 1.25 respectively.) and the Obscene publication act thats says that you can’t show obscene things in the media, as it may have an effect on someone. A possible real life example is how a person in England supposedly imitated the game “Manhunt” in which you are rewarded for brutally killing opponents. (
  • Criticisms of the Hypodermic Needle theory – The effects model sees us as too passive and it doesn’t take into account the audience as individuals with their own beliefs, opinions, ideas and attitudes. “Audiences are not blank sheets of paper on which media messages can be written” (Abercrombie, 1996, Pg 140)
  • The Cultivation Theory – This theory says that repeated exposure to a media message will lead to “desensitisation” i.e. we become less sensitive to violent scenes the more we see and we are therefore more violent in real life. violent images are becoming more glamourised, used for entertainment and acceptable, and are even used for comedic effect. This makes us see violence as less serious.
  • Criticisms of the Cultivation theory – We may become desensitised to screen violence but this doesn’t automatically mean that we are less shocked by real life violence.
  • The Two-Step Flow Theory – This theory suggests that the media isn’t the most influential thing in our lives, they believe that “opinion leaders” people who are role models to us. E.G. Parents, peers, etc.
  • Criticisms of the Two-Step Flow Theory – Many children / young people’s “opinion leaders” are media celebrities. They may use these media figures as their role models as opposed to their siblings, parents, etc. so the media is more influential.
  • Uses and Gratification Theory – This theory says that the media doesn’t have a harmful affect on the audience. It also says that we control the media not the other way around and it has a positive effect on us. It says that the media meets our needs such as; The need for diversion (escapism), The need for personal relationships (using media for emotional and other interaction), The need for personal identity (Assurance, constructing own identity by identifying with characters) and the need for surveillance (Information gathering.) According to this theory we use the media to gratify our needs.
  • Criticisms of Uses and Gratification  Yes, we use the media to meet our own needs but we cannot deny that most people simply consume media products without being in control. We are not as active in our decision making as the theory suggests.
  • The Reception theory This theory says that we all respond differently to media. Media is usually polysemic (can have different meanings) – the audience makes it’s own meanings. This meaning might be different from the one intended by the producer (the preferred meaning) Stuart Hall, he proposed that audiences respond in one of three ways; 1. Dominant (you agree with the preferred meaning) 2. Negotiated (you shape the meaning to your ideas) 3. Oppositional (you don’t agree) Theoretical study – Grand Theft Auto – Some parents will have an oppositional response, however it is impossible to gauge what people will say. A doctor’s view may be an oppositional response that says that the health risks aren’t worth it, however they may also have a negotiated response as there has