February 27, 2019
The ‘Human algorithm’ that schools and parents feed through fear concerning social media ‘trends’
> How perpetrators of crime are relying on you to advertise their products for free; and you do.
> How you may be adding to the online harm issues for children and young people without being aware.
Free advertising used to be a dream for large companies who wanted to sell their products to as many people as possible in the shortest timeframe possible. Finding a slot between popular TV programs would mean that you got the biggest bang for your buck. If the advert was good people would talk about it to their family and friends.
But what if you wanted to recruit children to buy your product?
Surely you would need something that could be accessed by children, talked about by children and also would become a hot topic for adults to talk about, therefore keeping the fire burning in the engine of mass impact. Forget children’s TV, the area that would get you the most traction is likely to utilise somewhere children frequent.
YouTube kids and Apps
I suspect the two most ‘popular’ areas that children currently frequent are schools and the internet, namely apps that are deemed suitable for children such as YouTube kids? Whilst this is slightly tongue in cheek as these are very likely the two most popular areas aside from Family homes there is a significant factor here; If a child has YouTube kids app then there is an adult in the house who owns that device and is likely to use social media.
Creating a moral panic of fear driven posts
The latest ‘challenge’, ‘game’ or ‘threat’ on social media
The human nature algorithm
Here’s where the human nature algorithm adds to this issue and why I’m writing this blog;
When you share the images/videos of the games/pranks/dares/challenges you may create a level of vicarious trauma where images are seen by people who may not have been prepared to see this in their social media feeds. You are responsible for what you share, and I am aware this is often done without considering the impact if you are sharing for a reason that you think is important. When you take a moment to stop and think about what this share may result in then this is called ‘mentalising’, or ‘theory of mind’ or ‘empathy’ (it’s a factor of Emotional Intelligence). It takes time to stop, reflect and consider what you are doing and why and when you are in an emotional place this skill is lessened. Panic and fear are powerful emotions for disrupting empathy.
Children are curious
The images or video stills tend to be quite large and have a well-designed novelty factor (as intended by the designer of the product) and these can be seen by children looking over your shoulder, on a device belonging to someone else, their social media feed and on occasions on newsletters from schools. Children are curious to know what you are talking about or looking at (Think of when you try to have a conversation with a friend in the playground or kitchen?). Children are curious and where they feel they may not get a satisfactory answer from you or another adult they will ask another child or in today’s world they may well google it. If your children, ask being transparent and age appropriate in your responses helps alleviate this. You do not have to scare your children with the full article details (which many not be true anyway), however, to help them develop their critical thinking skills about the validity of the post and to discuss how they would let you know about issues like this, you need to be in communication with them from the outset.
Sharing the trend adds to the algorithm
So what can or ought we do?
I’m not saying don’t share this information to raise awareness. I’m saying check facts, check the leading internet organisations websites and check reputable sources that discuss e-safety/online safety issues… with actual facts.
Why children look at scary things on the internet; Why vicarious Cybertrauma/trauma is a thing!
I have a previous blog that covers why children look at scary things on the internet, why vicarious Cybertrauma/trauma is a thing and I podcast about issues like this and covered similar topics in 2017 and 2018 with Alan Mackenzie who is a fabulous internet safety adviser, where we looked at young people trends and YouTube.
A New Chinese whisper phenomenon!
Our fear feeds the monster and I am already hearing about it in therapy from children who heard adults talking about it in the playground and I have seen so many hyperbolic additions to this new Chinese whisper phenomenon. (Some from companies who claim to inform parents about e-safety issues).
Fear is the greatest driver for human algorithmic behaviour
Become aware of it and you can work out a way to inform rather than scare. Shock tactics do not work, nor have they ever been a great way to educate. They come from a deep rooted place of fear and feelings of incompetency. So like crossing the road, STOP, LOOK carefully and LISTEN for your own fear monster. Fact check and consider how you can share this information to educate not scare. If you find you’re thinking this way. Stop again and breathe and check in with yourself what your fear is, because like the challenges the bogey man just got under your skin. You probably know why and I’m not here to shame anyone.
DEAR CURIOSITY, FACEBOOK AND GRAPHIC VIDEOS………..DO NOT……………. -15th January 2015
https://youtu.be/7RT044lFo0s – 17th December 2017
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