What thoughts do you have about the following images? (what thoughts do they invoke)
The brain is the seat of our behavior. It controls how we think, what and why we eat, what we indulge in and the habits and dispositions that make us who we are. There is a battle for our minds. It is safe to say whoever controls your mind controls your thoughts, your desires, your appetite, your habits, your destiny, so we must be careful who we ‘give’ our minds to. Sometimes we give it away, sometimes it is taken away, but we want to look at a powerful informational source that seeks dominion over our minds, much more than we think. In this presentation, we want to talk about mass media and its effects on us, our spiritual lives and also look at scripture to help guide our choices.
The Frontal lobe is the biggest portion of the brain. It is involved in cognitive (mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses) processes, such as “executive function, attention, memory, and language” also “mood, personality, self-awareness, as well as social and moral reasoning” . That would include morality, prayer, religion. Scriptures referring to the activity of the ‘frontal lobe’ – Isaiah 1:18 and Galatians 5:23.
The Limbic system is made up of a number of structures deep within the brain. “The limbic system…[governs] emotions and behavior. The limbic system, and in particular the hippocampus and amygdala, is involved in the formation of long-term memory, and is closely associated with the olfactory structures (having to do with the sense of smell)” . Scriptures referring to the activity of the limbic system – Phil 3:19, Gal 5:17, Romans 8:6-7.
In this presentation, we will be looking at just two media modalities: television and social media.
Television is “An electronic broadcast system in which special providers transmit a continuous program of video content to the public or subscribers by way of antenna, cable, or satellite dish, often on multiple channels” . It is a powerful tool of communication. The U.N. Secretary General (Kofi Anan) back in 2003 called it “the world’s most powerful medium of communication” .
Television has the power to change minds, mold behaviors and manipulate our impulses. As we let programming do this, it affects our morality, and steals from family and personal devotion time.
A Law in Intellectual and Spiritual Worlds—It is a law both of the intellectual and the spiritual nature that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to the subjects upon which it is allowed to dwell. It becomes assimilated to that which it is accustomed to love and reverence. [5-The Great Controversy, 555 (1888)]. For example, impersonators, devotees who attend Comic Con; people mimic their favorite celebrities and memorize their sayings.
Quotes From People In Media and Advertising
(1) In the book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Jerry Mander (PR and advertising executive for 15 years) said “During that time, I learned that it is possible to speak through media directly into people’s heads and then, like some otherworldly magician, leave images inside that can cause people to do what they might otherwise never have thought to do.” Mander, pg 14.
(2) Edward Bernays (nephew of the Psychologist Sigmund Freud, American publicist PR counselor) in his 1928 book Propaganda, he writes, “The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world to-day. It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions. The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation. Because pictures are made to meet market demands, they reflect, emphasize and even exaggerate broad popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions. The motion picture avails itself only of ideas and facts which are in vogue or fashionable.” Bernays pg 156. 
Using psychological principles from his uncle Freud, he ran 2 campaigns that are still popular today:
- Getting American women to embrace smoking.
- Revamping the American Breakfast by getting people to eat bacon and eggs. 
(3) Bertrand Russell (the British philosopher, social critic and Nobel laureate) in his book The Scientific Outlook writes “The great majority of young people in almost all civilized countries derive their ideas of love, of honour, of the way to make money, and of the importance of good clothes, from the evenings spent in seeing what Hollywood thinks good for them. I doubt whether all the schools and churches combined have as much influence as the cinema upon the opinions of the young in regard to such intimate matters as love and marriage and money-making. The producers of Hollywood are the high-priests of a new religion.” Russell, pg 200. 
The North American Guidelines For TV Watching For Parents
The North American daily guidelines for parents are “not more than 1 hour of screen media exposure from ages 2–5 and not more than 2 hours for school age children, assuming that the content is developmentally appropriate”… “Parents are encouraged to keep bedrooms free of screens”(American Academy of Pediatrics. Media and young minds. J. Pediatr. 138, e20162591 (2016),Canadian Paediatric Society, Digital Health Task Force. Screen time and young children: promoting health and development in a digital world. J. Paediatr. Child Health 22, 461–468 (2017), American Academy of Pediatrics. Media use in school-aged children and adolescents. J. Pediatr. 138, e20162592 (2016).
Health Effects From Exposure To Television (In 2 Age Groups)
- Prospective associations between television in the preschool bedroom and later bio-psycho-social risks — [9-Pagani, L.S., Harbec, M.J. & Barnett, T.A. Prospective associations between television in the preschool bedroom and later bio-psycho-social risks. Pediatr Res 85, 967–973 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-018-0265-8].
- Television viewing and cognitive decline in older age: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing — [10-Fancourt, D., Steptoe, A. Television viewing and cognitive decline in older age: findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Sci Rep 9, 2851 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39354-4].
There are many more studies and quotes out there that look at the health issues associated with television watching, but we know both the type of program you watch and the length of time you watch also plays a major role.
Social media is another mass communication tool that has power for good, but the origins and overuse has presented the opposite.
FACEBOOK: Sean Parker one of the co-founders of Facebook has said the online service will mess with your mind in serious ways. And he added they have known this all along. He said “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'” “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.” “It’s a social-validation feedback loop” .
Another Former Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya said “It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are,” he said. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.” He also added, “Everybody else has to soul-search a little bit more about what you’re willing to do,” he said. “Because your behaviors, you don’t realize it, but you are being programmed. It was unintentional, but now you gotta decide how much you’re willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.” he also added that it’s not a problem isolated to FB he added a list of other social media platforms.” 
The final point he made was how quickly misinformation and hoaxes can spread. It went so far in India that a widespread hoax spread through WhatsApp led to the lynching of several men.
Misinformation can led to the actual killing of real men. We know the enemy is a thief, but John 10:10 tells us that Christ came to bring us abundant life.
[More information: Facebook admits it poses mental health risk – but says using site more can help [13-Link]
INSTAGRAM: Bailey Richardson (one of the 13 original employees working at Instagram in 2012 when Facebook bought the viral photo-sharing app for $1 billion) isn’t a bystander reckoning with the ills of technology. She and four others from that small group now say “the sense of intimacy, artistry and discovery that defined early Instagram and led to its success has given way to a celebrity-driven marketplace that is engineered to sap users’ time and attention at the cost of their well-being” 
Social Media’s Health Effects
- Media use and brain development during adolescence. Being accepted or rejected on digital media for adolescents is an impactful social experience. Also, adolescents spend about 6-9 hours daily. .
- Psychological Impact on Screen Time and Green Time For Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Scoping Review. “While moderate Screen Time can be beneficial for young people in a connected world, it is widely speculated that the trends of increasing Screen Time and decreasing Green Time (time in nature) among children and adolescents may be social determinants of trends in youth mental health problems” .
- Practicing What You Behold On Social Media. “The study also found that exposure to self-harm on Instagram at the first interview predicted higher levels of suicidal ideation and risk for suicide at the second interview. The analysis controlled for prior reports of self-harm” .
- Romans 1:28-32
- Proverbs 4:32
- Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Last Word: Inspired Writings
Exciting Reading Makes Restless, Dreamy Child—Readers of frivolous, exciting tales become unfitted for the duties of practical life. They live in an unreal world. I have watched children who have been allowed to make a practice of reading such stories. Whether at home or abroad, they were restless, dreamy, unable to converse except upon the most commonplace subjects. Religious thought and conversation was entirely foreign to their minds. With the cultivation of an appetite for sensational stories the mental taste is perverted, and the mind is not satisfied unless fed upon this unwholesome food. I can think of no more fitting name for those who indulge in such reading than mental inebriates. Intemperate habits of reading have an effect upon the brain similar to that which intemperate habits of eating and drinking have upon the body. [Book, Adventist Home, pg 414.3]