By Nichole Ammon, MSEd, LPCC-S
As a Gen-Xer, I grew up and graduated high school without cell phones and in college I registered for classes using think course catalogs and paper for at least a year before the process moved to the computer. So, my entry into the world of social media all occurred as an adult, already in my career as a community mental health counselor. However, the technology boom occurred early enough in my life to be transformational; the fact I am writing a blog has to be proof.
The controversy around media has existed throughout my life. When I was 5-years old, Dee Snider of the band Twisted Sister, challenged allegations by the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) that their music was pornography. He eloquently testified in front of the United States Senate’s Committee on Commerce in a congressional hearing on “record labeling[i]. In the 1990s, controversy spanned from heavy metal into rap and hip-hop, claiming music ranging from Slayer to NWA incited violence. Columbine school massacre occurred my first year of college. Marilyn Manson was the target of supposed cause in that tragedy.
Video games have experienced a similar trajectory. In 1976, Death Race was the first game to be pulled from shelves due to public outcry. In 1997 Jack Thompson, an anti-video game activist, filed lawsuit saying that game manufacturers were purposefully desensitizing children towards violence, thereby causing kids to become more prone to acts of violence and aggression. Despite the surgeon general’s report in 2001 that there is little to no causal link, a bill was introduced in 2003 that would make it a federal crime to rent or sell video games to a minor (the Protect Children from Video Game Sex and Violence Act of 2003.)[ii]
Controversy around the music, film and video game industries have far from subsided… but what has developed in more recent years is Social Media. According to a post on the History Cooperative the world of social media started between 1997 and 2002 with “Six Degrees” and “Friendster”, but it didn’t really boom until around 2008, when Facebook surpassed MySpace in popularity. Since then, the growth has been exponential. It’s estimated that globally there are over 2.5 billion social media users.[iii] There are many advantages and positive things that have resulted from the growth of social media. Twitter, for example, has risen to be a powerful tool for social change and advocacy[iv]. However, with those kinds of numbers and the vast amount of content, opportunity for problems exist alongside the benefits of making a global community feel smaller/closer.
From cyberbullying to sexting to FOMO (fear of missing out), in this week’s IC@N ECHO session we are dedicating our didactic blitz on risks and potential ill impact of social media on our communities, particularly youth. We will also touch on considerations for primary and mental healthcare practitioners to consider in treating and advising the patients and families we work with. As usual, we look forward to hearing from all of you, the IC@N ECHO virtual community. Bring your thoughts, insights and questions this Friday, July 19th, 2019. Until then, I wish you all safe web surfing.
[i] https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/dee-snider-on-pmrc-hearing-i-was-a-public-enemy-71205/ Accessed on July 12, 2019
[ii] https://ncac.org/resource/a-timeline-of-video-game-controversies Accessed on July 12, 2019
[iii] https://historycooperative.org/the-history-of-social-media/ Accessed on July 12, 2019
[iv] How Twitter Helped Ferguson Learn to Treat Tear Gas Victims Overnight. Vice, 08/14/2014 https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/539yz5/how-twitter-helped-ferguson-learn-to-treat-tear-gas-victims-overnight. Accessed on July 15, 2019.
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