‘Claiming’ & social norming in social sites

When she found that about half of teens’ social media posts “refer to drinking, sex, or violence,” University of Wisconsin pediatrics professor Megan Moreno wondered how much of those posts were just claims, USNews.com reports. She still wonders – hard data is hard to gather – but she “thinks some of it is, some is nonsense, and some is a ‘gesture of intention’,” where someone might be thinking about partying more and is “testing the waters by putting up pictures or writing about it.” What she does know, though, she says, is that these posts have a negative “social norming” effect on peers and young children. “Kids do think that what they see on social media sites is real, and the younger they are, the more they believe it. That’s important, because teenagers are powerfully influenced by the behavior of their peers.” Here’s a useful flag for parents and educators and a great new-media-literacy lesson for younger kids: Peers’ posts could be more claim than reality, and thinking critically about the posts of people they know is a great step toward exercising similar critical judgment about what’s reported in the overall media environment, from blogs to TV news. [See also “Fictionalizing their profiles.”]

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