Does Social Media Normalize Hateful Behavior?

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via flickr

A bunch of blocks that show social media apps

Now more than ever, social media has become a major influence on today’s youth. Social media isn’t always a terrible thing to be influenced by, as it may help people learn or explore new things, get into more hobbies, and sometimes make new friends. However, people also have to realize that social media can also have many adverse effects. With people being able to say whatever they please in comment sections, many commenters say rude things under posts. When impudent comments become a trend, many people think it would be funny to follow suit; thousands of hateful comments can be spread across many different platforms.

Social media has created a place where people making fun of each other is normalized. Even some celebrities who know they have many people who look up to them and are influenced by them decide it would be a good idea to be mean to others on the internet. Although just because it won’t affect them doesn’t mean it won’t affect the thousands of teens or tweens who aspire to be like them and get into trouble for trying to imitate their actions. Rob Kardashian, a reality TV star, was trending after attacking his ex-fiancée with numerous explicit photos on Instagram to the point where his account had to be taken down. But Kardashian decided it still wasn’t enough and continued the attacks on Twitter. According to the psychologist and author Catherine Steiner-Adair, students all over the country ask why celebrities and politicians can engage in name-calling and not be punished whatsoever. The psychologist had also found that some teenagers have taken their own lives due to exposure to private images similar to those that Kardashian had put on his social media accounts. 

Studies have shown that young people who witness aggressive behavior in adults are influenced by it and expand on that behavior. The “Bobo Doll Experiment,” conducted by Albert Bandura, showed that children who saw adults hit the bobo doll not only attacked the doll but hit it with weapons. This experiment showed how easily children could learn social behavior such as aggression by observing another person’s behavior. The implications of this study are extremely important as they show the effects of media violence on children.

Overall, social media can lead kids in the wrong direction. Whether in their insolence or aggressive behavior, social media isn’t a good thing to introduce to kids, especially at an early age.