It may be time to look at how we use social media, or more importantly how we let our children see what we are doing on social media. A new study has come out that shows that sharing or “liking” stories about violent acts may have a detrimental effect on them.
The new research suggests that kids can be influenced by how stories about crimes are shared or liked on Facebook.
“When kids approve of any kind of violent word or statement or gestures or symbols, it really increases the likelihood that they’ll go on to commit violent acts in the future,” said Dr. Tom Dishion, a psychologist at Arizona State University, and the study’s lead author. “Kids are very sensitive to the audience.”
The Arizona State University research finds that sharing negative or violent news—and receiving feedback in the form of “likes” and comments—may beget aggressive behavior in children.
The University wrote: “Research suggests parents should be less worried about what children are watching and more concerned with what they’re posting on social media—and who’s ‘liking’ it.”
Dishion said: “Although the cultural discussion sometimes frames news reports of violence as a social ‘contagion,’ a more penetrating effect comes from receiving peer approval for sharing negative or violent material.”
He explained with this example: A person who is praised for posting a racist joke on social media is more likely to use racist language in everyday life. The same holds true with sharing scenes of violence.
“So when young kids (post online) and get likes, the way they bring attention to themselves through violent things is highly reinforcing,”
Dishion says: “There’s pretty good research that… they’ll do more of it in the future. Or, perhaps, even incorporate violence into ‘real life.’
“In general, the more you’re engaged with young people, the less likely it is they will go down that road, extremely, it’s preventative. That’s the key message. Words have power.”
So think twice before liking a story; it may help to combat the spread of violence. I guess it would be good to talk more about the victims and less about the perpetrator.