The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'moral panics'

2010/9/3

A new study has shown that older people enjoy reading news stories that portray younger people negatively:

All the adults in the study were shown what they were led to believe was a test version of a new online news magazine. They were also given a limited time to look over either a negative and positive version of 10 pre-selected articles. Each story was also paired with a photograph depicting someone of either the younger or the older age group. The researchers found that older people were more likely to choose to read negative articles about those younger than themselves. They also tended to show less interest in articles about older people, whether negative or positive.
The study concluded that this is a result of a youth-centric society, and that stories which take young people down a few notches serve to boost the self-esteem of older readers.

I wonder whether this factor, plus the aging of the baby boom cohort and the populist bent of the market-driven media, could be behind so many beatups in the news, from scare stories about killer hoodies to dire warnings about internet addiction, shrinking attention spans and the imminent collapse of civilisation as we know it. (And whether, historically, the same factor has played a part in fuelling moral panics about youth-oriented trends such as rock'n'roll music, comic books, swing dancing, and so on.)

(via /.) media moral panics psychology 0

2010/2/3

Life imitates New Waver lyrics yet again: A psychological study at Leeds University has found a connection between depression and heavy internet use:

The authors found that a small number of users had developed a compulsive internet habit, replacing real life social interaction with online chat rooms and social networking sites.
They classed 18 respondents - 1.2% of the total - as "internet addicts". This group spent proportionately more time on sex, gambling and online community websites... The internet addicts were significantly more depressed than the non-addicted group, with a depression score five times higher.
Of course, the whole concept of "internet addiction" is a dubious one, and often tinged with tabloid-style moral panic, so there's a danger that the advocates of the "internet addiction" industry will wave this around as proof, ignoring the fact that the addictive behaviours there are more usefully described as gambling and/or pornography addiction.

The report does not put forward any causal links between heavy internet use and depression. Do specific patterns of internet use weaken social contacts, contributing to depression, or do depressed people use the internet to self-medicate?

Also, the inclusion of online community websites along with sex and gambling websites seems somewhat dubious; while the latter are masturbatory replacements for natural stimuli, especially those one leading an impoverished life may lack, can one really imply that social community sites substitute for and weaken social ties rather than facilitating them? I recall a study from a few years ago which showed that users of social web sites actually have stronger social connections, and improved wellbeing as a result of those. Though it is always possible that various characteristics of particular social websites (which may be influenced by their design and/or emergent from organic patterns of use) influence their ability to facilitate psychologically useful social ties.

depression despair hikikomori internet moral panics psychology social software 3

2008/5/1

It has emerged that children in Britain are posing as paedophiles online to intimidate each other.

Officers have warned parents and children to be vigilant after as many as nine youngsters in Padstow, Cornwall, were targeted through the networking sites Bebo and MSN. Police initially believed a local man was trying to groom the children by befriending them online and arranging to meet them. But a member of the public has come forward and told them that youngsters are trying to settle playground disputes by posing as a paedophile to frighten their rivals.
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said: "Information from the public has highlighted a possibility that the offenders could be children aged 10 and over, masquerading as a paedophile. The investigations are continuing and at this moment we are looking into every line of inquiry and are not ruling out any possibility. However, the language used on the social networking sites such as Bebo and MSN is at times childish. It could be youngsters playing a sick game to try and intimidate friends they have fallen out with. This will be treated seriously and we will be contacting the families of the children involved and we will try and help them by involving social services."
Granted, a lot of this is the inevitable modern variant of kids trying to scare each other with imaginary serial killers/monsters/urban myths, updated for the age of paedoterror, though it wouldn't surprise me if, in these jumpy times, some 12-year-old ended up on the sex offenders' register after pulling such a stunt.

(via Boing Boing) bullying children hoaxes irony moral panics online paedoterrorists society uk 0

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