Experts say incidences of uncivil behavior online impacts social interactions in real life
Studies reveal that young people model and expand their behavior off adults – this is particularly true when regarding aggressive people.
Psychologist Karen North points to the famous “Bobo Doll Experiment”, which had adults hit a doll in front of children. When exposed to the doll afterwards, children not only mimicked the adults and hit the doll but attacked it with weapons too.
Although bad behavior, bullying and gossip is nothing new, social media enables anyone and everyone to witness it.
Dr. North stated: “Over time, the attitudes and behavior that we are concerned with right now in social media will bleed out into the physical world. We’re supposed to learn to be polite and civil in society. But what we have right now is a situation where a number of role models are acting the opposite of that.”
Among these role models are celebrities. When celebrities misbehave on social media, their posts are shared and even revered by their fans.
Recently, reality TV star Robert Kardashian was trending for attacking Blac Chyna, his former fiance and the mother of his child on his social media account, posting explicit photos and videos of her.
Bad behavior becoming “trendy” in the real world
Psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair said she had been asked by countless adolescent students why it is permissible for politicians (U.S. President Trump in particular) and celebrities to engage in bullying and other unsavory activities online without punishment.
Dr. Steiner-Adair said: “We are normalizing behaviors, and it’s affecting some kids. And what’s affecting kids that is profound is their mistrust of grown-ups who are behaving so badly. Why aren’t they stopping this?”
She concluded with a warning to begin seriously considering how liking, re-tweeting and sharing cruel posts on social media platforms affect children.
“. . . We are creating a bystander culture where people thing this is funny . . . behaving in this way, we are creating a very dangerous petri dish for massive cultural change.”