The theory of uses and gratification is the concept that mass audiences make a dynamic use of what gets offered by the media. This theory asserts that people use the media to satisfy their psychological and social needs. The theory tries to outline various reasons that the audience has with respect to the use of mass media, as well as the function media, plays in people’s lives. This theory demonstrates that mass media never uses its audiences as perceived. According to this theory, people have several needs, and they use the media to satisfy these needs. The audience employs the media to identify their personality, develop relationships, as well as an escape from individual motives.
The theory of uses and gratification has some limitations. The theory is highly individualistic in nature. They theory takes only into consideration personal psychological satisfaction derived for personal media use. On the other hand, the theory ignores the media’s social context; for instance, the state, as well as the environment of media user. In spite of the varied choices available for users, they possess no control over mass media and what it produces. This implies that what they get is only prepared by gatekeepers and includes their perception and influences. Usually, the gatekeepers subtract from, add to, and organize subjects, stories, and issues without the control of the users.
The theory rejects the traditional approach, which views the media as the dominating agent that simply manipulates the audience. Media continues to manipulate how people dress, eat, speak, walk and behave. The theory fails to recognize these problems; thus, create a huge shortfall. The theory views the audience to be active rather that passive. The audience has no control of what they receive from the media. Referring the audience as active is quite irrelevant.
It is not always that the audience uses and accepts the media as suggested by the theory. The audience never benefits all the time from the media use. The theory focuses on personal needs and ignores the socio-cultural context. On the other hand, the audience might not be aware of the reason why they get associated with some programs. The media may distort personal memories and a person might not be capable of using the media to gratify any needs indicated by the theory.