The Effects of Mass Media on Human Behavior By Cindi Pearce, eHow Contributor | updated May 21, 2011 1. Saturated o The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is quite interested in the effects of growing up in a time where children are saturated with bad models of sexual behavior and to what extent consumption of the type of news that displays high levels of sexual activity yet low levels of responsible conduct impacts children. Everyone pays attention at least to some extent to what they see, hear and read, but can children and teenagers, in particular, decipher good information from bad? So far, very little empirical data has been collected on this topic. Violence and Sex Everywhere o Studies show how violence-saturated media leads to the everincreasing acceptance of violence in society. It is not yet known whether overexposure to sexual content is making young people more thoughtful about their decisions or more reckless. Some argue, including Dr. Drew Pinsky, who is frequently seen on television, that shows such as "16 and Pregnant" are beneficial because young women and men see the ramifications of teen pregnancy and parenthood. The viewers are getting a realistic view of the aftermath and how difficult it is. They can see that it is not glamorous. Theories o Media content and its influence on behavior includes the theory that the media provides models of behavior. Teens, for example, model those young people on TV who are, for example, having casual sex. Another theory is that TV viewing is an emotional release, cathartic for the viewer and prevents people from acting out. Symbolic modeling occurs when violent behavior is not directly imitated after it is seen on TV or elsewhere, but the viewer does engage in a generalized form of the behavior seen in the media. Imitation theory includes identification, which means that viewers may acquire aggressive behavior demonstrated by characters only when they identify with the particular character and only when the behavior appears to be justified. Vicarious reinforcement means that someone sees a certain behavior pay off, which may increase the acceptability of this type of behavior and the likelihood that he will engage in it. Emotional State o If an individual is in a highly emotional state or in a state of physiological arousal, which may have been caused by viewing something on TV or the Internet, they are more apt to take part in aggressive behavior in response to seeing violence on TV than are others who are not in an emotional state.