Mass media has three major effects on our society. First, it teaches us the signifiers of the culture; secondly, it puts issues into the agenda; thirdly, it offers solutions to binary oppositions and teaches us what behaviors [behaviours] are preferred or at least accepted within the dominant ideology.
Thus values and behaviour of youths are strongly influenced by the mass media like newspapers, television, radio, video, and the Internet. Mass media is categorised into three groups, the print media (newspaper, journals, etc.), electronic media (television, radio) and the new-age media (the Internet, mobile phones, and computers). (Uttara, 2000)  In this essay, I will focus particularly on free-to-air television programme and the web, how they are not the main causes of moral decay in youths today.
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First, exposure to violence images through television programme does not cause violence in youths but decrease the probability of being aggressive. However, we often see public pushing blames towards the television programmes. “Exposure to aggressive stimuli will increase physiological and emotional arousal, which will increase the probability of violence.” (Dr. Mark, n.d.)  Thus it is often said that television is a good candidate for the cause of the increase in violence in the society. But, on the other hand, an online document, disagrees that exposure to violence images cause violence in youths and pointed out two theories; Reinforcement theory and Aggressive Cues theory. The Reinforcement theory explains that whether youths turn towards aggressive will depend on the background of the youth. If a youth is brought up in a nasty environment, then the youth is going to read violence images as real violence. The Aggressive Cues theory further point out that whether the youths get negatively influenced, all depends on how the media presents these images; if the violence is presented in a justifiable way, then youths can be lead to combative behaviour and vice versa. (“Mass Media and Society,” n.d.)  However, the television programmes shown on television portray violence in an appropriate way. Take Point of Entry as an example; it portrays violence as a negative form for problem solving. William Triplett (2007).  agreed that exposure to violence does not cause moral decay in youths, [All babies are born with violent tendencies, which most kids learn to control as they grow older.]” Thus exposure to violence scenes is not responsible for the moral decay in youths but depends on the way the youth is being brought up, where parents and guardians come into place.
Secondly, with respect to how both television and the net not cause moral decay in youths. Easy accessibility to sexual images does not necessarily cause youths to be sexually arouse. However, through the internet, we often see sources stating “society is degenerating because of the ready accessibility in pornography.” (Dr. Mark, n.d.)  It is said that early exposure to pornography through the web causes youth early maturity, thus an increase in number of sexual activities at an earlier age. Why both the web and television does not cause decay in youths moral is because firstly, the reinforcement theory, a theory that implicates that whether a youth gets negatively or positively influenced depends on the youth’s background. “Children who are sexually abused are going to read sexual signifiers differently than children whose parents demonstrate a loving, caring relationship and explain sexual behaviors [behaviours] to their children.” (Dr. Mark, n.d.)  Thus the message that had been brought over to youths depends entirely on how the youth interpret it. Besides, having early exposure to sexual images not only prepare the youths with the basic knowledge of sex but also avoid impropriate action done on youths without them knowing that it is wrong. Therefore I conclude that both the web and television does not cause moral decay in youths but actually educates them and prepare them for the future.
Thirdly, how television programme and web not cause moral decay in youths, like materialism. Materialism in youths is not caused by the advertisements from both the free-to-air programmes and the net. Through the web, often see people pointing fingers towards the television programmes and the Internet example, Richins & Dawson (1992).  pointed out that “[P]eople view material possessions as a symbol of success and the source of happiness in life”.  Thus it is said that advertisements motivate consumers to spend unnecessarily; causing youths to be materialistic. However, it is neither the television nor the Internet that causes materialism in youths. It is due to both peer pressure and self-esteem. Many youths feel insecure with their look and status because they feel that they are not fashionable or look good enough as compared to their friends and thus need to depend on accessories to get acknowledged by peers and to feel secure. Deborah Roedder John, and co-author Lan Nguyen Chaplin, (“Materialism in Kids and Adolescents linked to Self Esteem,” n.d.)  have done two experiments with children and found out that the level of materialism is directly proportional to their self-esteem and this proper pride comes from among the peers. In the first experiment, they found that materialism rate increases from the age of 12 onwards but after which declines by the age of 16 to18 years old and this mirrors a patterns in the youth’s sense of pride. They continued with their second experiment to support materialism is not caused by the television and web. In the second experiment, positive feedbacks were given to the targeted youths from their peers; positive remarks about them, and after which, result shows that the level of materialism decreases simultaneously. Thus it is the peers around who are responsible for the increase in level of materialism and not the television programme or the net.
Fourth, with respect to the misunderstanding, that both television and the Internet cause moral decay in youths. Parents and guardians are responsible for the moral decay in youths. A research had been done from the United States: “43 % of teens in the US have used drugs and alcohol at least once. Around 1 million teens have left their homes and half of them live as delinquent (naughty) boys and girls and the other half are drug users. About 2,000 teens from the age of 10 to 19 years old commit to suicide each year. Most of them come from wealthy families that are not harmonious.” (Maxi, 2007)  From this result, it shows that family without parents or guardians’ love, care and concern will cause them to become ignorant. Without parents or guardians’ watch over, teens will be able to access any type of media content, and cause youths to get negatively influenced by the restricted sites or aggressive programmes. Thus parents should be responsible as they have the right and should watch over the programmes selected by the youths; prevent them from watching inappropriate videos and visiting restricted sites. Besides watching over the programmes selected, parents should also communicate more with their child and understands their need and enlighten them to avoid misinterpretation over the content from the programmes viewed. Thus, I conclude that parents and guardians are responsible for the cause moral decay in youths. With the appropriate guidance from young, youths will not misapprehend the message brought over to them from the images watched.
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Lastly why television and the Internet not cause moral decay is because both online resource and the television programmes provide youths with educational knowledge. In the past, most teachers conduct their lessons using either verbal communication or at most with additional notes. Although teachers are still using this method to teach in the class today, students are learning facts and values from the mass media especially through the net and television programs. (Bukhari, 2006, p.111)  In school, the time slot given to moral education is limited, foremost two hours each week, thus youths cannot learn much morals in school. In fact, with more time given for moral lessons do no help improve the morals in youths. According to Cheung (n.d.).  [[T]eachers find it difficult to teach values and attitudes while pupils find moral lessons boring.] and state that [TV [Television] has become child’s third parent and a first teacher] [Exposed to media messages, pupils may be imperceptibly but strongly influenced by the values behind such media message.] (p.62) Between moral education in class and through virtual images, the web resources enhance youth’s interest in learning more. [This technological escalation has bestowed upon education proliferation of equipment and materials which can assist in the reorganization and redefinition of educational experiences.] (Bukhari, 2006, p.111)  Therefore I conclude that both the television programme and the Internet does not cause moral decay in youths but on the other hand teach them morals.
In conclusion, both the Internet and free-to-air programmes plays an important role in shaping youth’s culture but not the main cause of moral decay in youths. The mass media is an amoral system; the existence of inappropriate media content is because of the supporting subscribers that sustains its survival. The media’s responsibility is to bring happiness and satisfaction to the receivers. With the precise preference, youths will not get negatively affected by both the net and television. Moreover, if youths got in contact with these inappropriate shows, parents should explain the correct message behind the scene to avoid misapprehend of content. Both the Internet and television programmes provide educational visuals. Therefore I conclude that both the Internet and television are not the main cause of moral decay in youths.
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