14 June 2024
Social Media Misogyny: Teens Exposed to Harmful Content

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Social media algorithms amplify misogynistic content, normalizing harmful ideologies for young people. A new report co-authored by Professor Nicola Shaughnessy from the University’s School of Arts found that extreme content, such as misogynistic posts, is amplified by social media algorithms, leading to the normalization of harmful ideologies for young people.

Social Media Misogyny and Teens: Algorithms, Impact, and Action



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In a groundbreaking study, Professor Nicola Shaughnessy from the University of Kent’s School of Arts, along with researchers from University College London (UCL) and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), uncovered a disturbing trend: social media algorithms are amplifying misogynistic content, normalizing harmful ideologies among young people.

Social Media Misogyny: The Role of Algorithms

The study, titled “Safer Scrolling: How Algorithms Popularize and Gamify Online Hate and Misogyny for Young People,” delved into the impact of social media algorithms on teenage users. The findings revealed a fourfold increase in misogynistic content on TikTok’s “For You” page over just five days, indicating that algorithms actively promote extreme and hateful ideologies.

From Screens to Schoolyards: Offline Impact of Social Media Misogyny

The study’s interviews with young people and school leaders revealed that misogynistic tropes and hateful ideologies are no longer confined to online spaces. They have seeped into schools, becoming embedded in mainstream youth cultures. This offline manifestation of online misogyny is a cause for concern, as it directly impacts young people’s behaviors and interactions.

A Call for a “Healthy Digital Diet” to Address Social Media Misogyny

The report emphasizes the need for a “healthy digital diet” approach to education, empowering young people, schools, parents, and communities to combat the harmful effects of online misogyny. This approach involves promoting digital literacy, fostering critical thinking skills, and encouraging responsible social media usage.

Championing Young Voices and Peer-to-Peer Mentoring in Combating Social Media Misogyny

The researchers stress the importance of listening to the voices of young people, particularly boys, in discussions about online misogyny. They suggest a “peer-to-peer” mentoring approach, where young people can learn from and support each other in navigating the challenges of online spaces.

Understanding the Algorithm’s Influence on Social Media Misogyny

The study highlights the need for adults, including parents and educators, to understand how algorithmic processes function and how they can contribute to social media addictions. This awareness is crucial for addressing the issue of online misogyny and supporting young people in making informed choices about their digital consumption.

Archetypes and Algorithmic Modeling: Uncovering Patterns of Social Media Misogyny

The researchers employed an innovative research method, using archetypes generated from fieldwork to discover more about the processing of algorithms in real-world contexts. By creating accounts on TikTok for each archetype, they observed how the algorithm suggested videos over time, revealing the platform’s tendency to promote misogynistic content.

Recommendations for a Safer Online Environment for Teens: Addressing Social Media Misogyny

The study concludes with a series of recommendations aimed at creating a safer online environment for young people:

– Promote digital literacy and critical thinking skills in schools and communities to combat social media misogyny.

– Encourage responsible social media usage and discourage excessive consumption of harmful content.

– Champion the voices of young people and involve them in discussions about online misogyny.

– Implement peer-to-peer mentoring programs to support young people in navigating online spaces.

– Hold social media companies accountable for the content they promote and the algorithms they use.

Wrapping Up: A Call to Action on Social Media Misogyny and Teens

The study’s findings underscore the urgent need for collective action to address the amplification of misogyny on social media and its impact on young people. By promoting digital literacy, encouraging responsible social media usage, and listening to the voices of young people, we can work towards creating a safer online environment that fosters respect, equality, and inclusivity.

FAQ’s

1. What is the central finding of the study?

The study found that social media algorithms amplify misogynistic content, normalizing harmful ideologies among young people.

2. How does misogyny manifest offline as a result of social media algorithms?

Misogynistic tropes and hateful ideologies seep into schools and become embedded in mainstream youth cultures, impacting young people’s behaviors and interactions.

3. What is a “healthy digital diet” approach, and how does it combat online misogyny?

A “healthy digital diet” approach empowers young people, schools, parents, and communities to combat online misogyny by promoting digital literacy, fostering critical thinking skills, and encouraging responsible social media usage.

4. Why is it important to listen to the voices of young people in discussions about online misogyny?

Listening to the voices of young people, particularly boys, is crucial for understanding their experiences with online misogyny and developing effective strategies to address it.

5. What are some recommendations for creating a safer online environment for young people?

Recommendations include promoting digital literacy and critical thinking skills, encouraging responsible social media usage, championing the voices of young people, implementing peer-to-peer mentoring programs, and holding social media companies accountable for their content and algorithms.

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