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Media Effects on College Students Today Essay

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Updated: Jul 6th, 2021


In spite of the fact that college students are less vulnerable in terms of being exposed to the negative effects of mass media, these sources of information still have significant impacts on young individuals. Students have access to a variety of media, including social media and mass media that provide them with many advertisements, experts’ and public opinions, credible and falsified information that influence their vision (Campbell, Martin, & Fabos, 2011).

The problem is that college students belong to the category of the most active users of media sources, and they can directly influence young individuals’ choices, behaviors, and perceptions of their appearance among other aspects. Therefore, it is important to study the set research problem with the help of the following question: what media effects on college students are of great importance today? The current research is aimed at analyzing the positive and negative effects of mass media on college students with reference to their importance and outcomes for individuals’ choices, decisions, behaviors, beliefs, and perceptions.

Rationale for Study

Not all media effects are of similar importance depending on the extent of students’ involvement and interest in media messages. Several years ago, researchers mostly focused on studying the effects of violent representation and advertising on young viewers (Swiatkowski, 2016). However, today more attention is paid to examining the role of social media and binge-watching in influencing college students’ views and behaviors. Certain technological advancements have changed the context of mass media and their effects on college students, accentuating the necessity of studying new trends (Dandamudi & Sathiyaseelan, 2018).

It is important to examine how social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and watching TV series via digital steaming and Netflix, for example, can affect college students’ choices, behaviors, and decisions.

The problem is that college students have open and unlimited access to social media, and they spend several hours per day reading posts. As a result, messages, images, and advertisements in social media can directly form college students’ visions regarding modern trends in the areas of appearance, fashion, make-up, lifestyle, healthy or unhealthy habits, and others. Furthermore, those college students who prefer watching many episodes of TV series during a certain period of time (binge-watching) and reporting a kind of dependence on television are also vulnerable to be greatly affected by messages in these media (Morgan, 2017).

Therefore, this study is important to be conducted to determine what particular media effects on college students are of great importance with reference to modern tendencies in using social media and binge-watching among others. This information can be used to analyze how media can change or form college students’ visions regarding their choices, goals, lifestyle, image, and relations with other people.

Method of Study

To conduct the research based on a literature review methodology, the following databases have been searched: ProQuest, EBSCOHost, Google Scholar, and Emerald Insight. The keywords used in the search are the following ones: “mass media,” “media effects,” “college students,” and “social media.” As a result, 112 articles mentioning different mass media and published within the past five years were retrieved. Among these articles, 10 secondary sources have been selected to be analyzed and used in this research.

Thus, recent general trends in the use of mass media by college students and associated effects should be discussed with reference to the studies by Saleem, Hanan, Saleem, and Shamshad (2014), Yu (2014), Swiatkowski (2016), and Wahab, Othman, and Muhammad (2017). In these studies, the researchers examined how mass media and advertising influence college students’ views regarding their body images, can provoke body dissatisfaction, provoke violent or unhealthy behaviors, and impact personal choices.

The review of the existing literature on the problem allows for identifying two important trends associated with the topic of mass media effects, such as the use of social media and binge-watching. The effects of such social media as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat on college students’ choices can be discussed with reference to Alhabash and Ma’s (2017) study. Today, students mostly choose Instagram that influences their views regarding acceptable body images, lifestyles, and career choices.

These ideas are also presented in the works by Park, Song, and Lee (2014) and Davis (2018), who accentuated the risks of objectification, misrepresentation, and stress connected with using social media. The effects of television, Netflix, binge-watching on college students with reference to risks of following observed behavioral patterns are discussed in the studies by Wang, Lin, and Ke (2015), Morgan (2017), Dandamudi, and Sathiyaseelan (2018).


Today, college students have unlimited access to different mass media, including social media, which can significantly influence their perceptions, visions, and behaviors. The researchers are inclined to distinguish between traditional mass media and their effects, including the role of television, magazines, and advertising in forming body perceptions, for example, and new trends. Thus, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other media created the foundation for the development of new tendencies in the media world.

As a result, the effects of mass media on college students have changed, and it is important to research them in detail. The reason is that social media can provoke body dissatisfaction, isolation, problems with socialization, peer pressure among other problems. Furthermore, the unlimited watching of TV series is associated with certain behaviors and personal choices. College students can experience both positive (motivation and self-realization) and negative (dissatisfaction, peer pressure, frustration) effects of mass media that need to be studied.


Alhabash, S., & Ma, M. (2017). A tale of four platforms: Motivations and uses of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat among college students? Social Media+ Society, 3(1), 2056305117691544.

Campbell, R., Martin, C. R., & Fabos, B. (2011). Media and culture: An introduction to mass communication (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Dandamudi, V. A., & Sathiyaseelan, A. (2018). Binge watching: Why are college students glued to their screens? Journal of Indian Health Psychology, 12(2), 41-52.

Davis, S. E. (2018). Objectification, sexualization, and misrepresentation: Social media and the college experience. Social Media+ Society, 4(3), 2056305118786727.

Morgan, J. A. (2017). Cultivating a career: Effects of television binge-watching and character identification on college students’ goal occupations. IU Journal of Undergraduate Research, 3(1), 48-53.

Park, N., Song, H., & Lee, K. M. (2014). Social networking sites and other media use, acculturation stress, and psychological well-being among East Asian college students in the United States. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 138-146.

Saleem, N., Hanan, M. A., Saleem, I., & Shamshad, R. M. (2014). Career selection: Role of parent’s profession, mass media and personal choice. Bulletin of Education and Research, 36(2), 25-37.

Swiatkowski, P. (2016). Magazine influence on body dissatisfaction: Fashion vs. health? Cogent Social Sciences, 2(1), 1250702.

Wahab, N. A., Othman, M. S., & Muhammad, N. (2017). The influence of the mass media in the behavior students: A literature study. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 7(8), 166-174.

Wang, F., Lin, S., & Ke, X. (2015). Just entertainment: Effects of TV series about intrigue on young adults. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 529.

Yu, U. J. (2014). Deconstructing college students’ perceptions of thin-idealized versus nonidealized media images on body dissatisfaction and advertising effectiveness. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 32(3), 153-169.

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