Sci & Tech online editor Ellen Heimpel reports on the discovery that Hira proteins found in our cells can be used to combat viruses, and the potential uses of this in future medicine.Written by Ellen Heimpel on 2nd July 2018
Does social media affect moral development?
Kara Watson reports on the recent UoB survey that gives an important insight into parental views of social media.
A new opinion poll created by researchers at the University of Birmingham has revealed that parents worry greatly about the effects of social media on their children’s moral development. More than half of parents thought it impeded their child's development, and noted many negative traits that they saw often on popular social media sites.
“Parents worry greatly about the effects of social media on their child's moral development...
The poll aimed to gauge the perceptions of the impact of social media among parents. It is the first survey of its type in the UK and it provides an idea about the types of moral values that circulate on social media sites. It showed that parental anxieties about the influence of social media on young children was common, especially the effect it could have on children aged 11, as although they are too young to use most popular social media sites, they still manage to do so.
The poll asked 1,700 parents who had children aged between 11 and 17 about their thoughts on how social media affects character. 15% thought that social media had a negative influence and 40% were ‘concerned’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about this impact. Parents thought that there were a number of character strengths missing from social media; 24% thought the main one was forgiveness and self-control, followed by honesty (21%) and fairness (20%). They also noted the negative traits they most often saw on social media, those being: anger and hostility (60%), arrogance (51%) and ignorance (43%).
Is social media all bad?
However, although it seems like this shows social media sites are a completely negative environment, the survey also found that over two-thirds of parents saw positive content at least once per day, a higher percentage than those who saw negative moral messages regularly. Also over 50% of parents saw strengths like humour and appreciation of beauty being promoted.
“...over 50% of parents saw strengths like humour and appreciation of beauty being promoted...
There is some research that shows the benefits of social media. Some studies have found that the more children used social media, the better their ‘virtual’ and ‘real-world’ empathy was, probably as they will experience more perspectives and circumstances (such as other cultures and religions), making them more tolerant. It can help shy children gain confidence in initiating new relationships, and allows them to practice social skills in what they perceive as a safe space. Social media use has also been shown to reduce stress as children can use it to distance themselves from stressors and also gain social support. “
“It can help shy children gain confidence in initiating new relationships, and allows them to practice social skills in what they perceive as a safe space...
Is there an easy solution?
Cutting off children from social media probably isn’t the answer, mainly because it is a big part of most people’s lives now, especially as parents could be part of the reason children use social media so much. Research has found that there is a correlation between parent’s usage of social media sites and their children’s usage, and in the opinion poll 93% of parents said they regularly used social media. It is therefore more important to educate children on social media and teach them how to navigate it safely, especially as you can often tailor what you see by unfollowing specific people. As we learn more about the impacts of social media, we can better understand the best way to educate children on its use and work out how to introduce them to it while reducing its potentially negative impacts.