I feel that uses and gratification theory by McQuail is the mostsignificant theory. It enhances understanding on how individuals usemedia with the objective of satisfying their needs. In addition, itsimportance derives from the theory’s uniqueness. Unlike othercommunication theories, which focus on what media does to users, thetheory concentrates on what individuals do with media.
Uses and gratification theory effectively categorizes people’s useof media for a number of reasons. One is information. Media acts as asignificant source of information that makes it possible to learnabout the happenings in an individual’s environment as well as theworld. It facilitates the possibility for people to self-educatethemselves. By reading from different media sources, people can getadvice on practical issues or opinions.
Second, media is used for personal identity. People can find supportfor personal values locate behavior models identify with people,who are valued in society, for instance media personalities who couldact as role models and gain knowledge about one’s self byidentifying with others who share similar beliefs.
Third, media is a form of social interaction. People use the media tointeract socially by sharing ideas and keeping in touch with familyand friends. The theory explains that media makes it possible toacquire knowledge concerning what other people are experiencing,ensure that people identify with others and hence have a sense ofbelonging, and acts as a substitute to real-life companionship.
Last, the theory refers to media as a source of entertainment. Themany forms of entertainment like, music, movies, features, news anddocumentaries act as a method for people to divert their minds fromthe problems they may be facing it can be used to relax to passtime enjoy and learn about other people’s cultures and act as achannel for releasing emotions.
The theory is good and can be applied in present day. This is becauseit enhances understanding on the uses and gratifications derived frommedia. It makes it clear that people will use media based on itsability to gratify personal needs. It further explains thesignificance of the many communication devices and sources ofinformation. In addition, it depicts how people use the devices andsources differently.
An illustration is the mobile phone. Almost every individual has amobile phone. It is possible to assume that the uses andgratifications of the device are to keep in touch with friends andfamily. However, the theory explains that uses and gratificationdiffer depending on the user and location. Other equally importantuses are the mobile phone as a fashion status, for coordinating withbusiness partners and for entertainment.
Also, in present day, the theory is applicable in explaining thewidespread use of the internet. The internet comprises of threegroups of gratification. These are content, social and processgratification. Content – when internet use involves researching tofind particular information. Process – when users feel gratifiedfrom randomly browsing the internet. Social – people use theinternet to create social ties, for instance through socialnetworking sites like face book.
In conclusion, the uses and gratification theory is important inexplaining different media uses. It focuses on how people use media,and deviates from the usual association of the media with negativeimpacts on users.