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How Social Media Increases Violence, Homicide Among Teens 

Photo by Dave Adamson via Unsplash

How Social Media Increases Violence, Homicide Among Teens 

By Movieguide® Contributor 

As online disputes turn into in-person violence, many are raising concerns about social media’s deadly impact on teens.

“In 2020, homicides spiked by 30% and fluctuated around that level for the next two years. There are early signs that the 2023 rate could show a decrease of more than 10% from last year, but that would still leave it well above pre-pandemic levels,” ProPublica reported. 

“When the pandemic led officials to close civic hubs such as schools, libraries and rec centers for more than a year, people — especially young people — ­were pushed even further into virtual space,” ProPublica added, explaining why homicides have increased in recent years. 

“There’s been a 91% increase between 2014 and 2021—91% increase in homicides among 15- to 19-year-olds,” Alec MacGillis told NPR.

James Timpson, a violence prevention worker in Baltimore, Maryland, revealed that social media has played a major role in this spike.   

“When I was young and I would get into an argument with somebody at school, the only people who knew about it were me and the people at school,” Timpson said. “Not right now. Five hundred people know about it before you even leave school. And then you got this big war going on.”

Juan Campos, who has worked with at-risk youth for the past 16 years, revealed “he’s never confronted a force as formidable as social media, where small boasts and disputes online can escalate into deadly violence in schoolyards and on street corners,” according to the Oakland Side.  

“Many disputes stem from perceived disrespect among insecure young adults who may lack impulse control and conflict-management skills,” the Oakland Side reported.

When disputes arise, “It’s hundreds of people on social media, versus just one or two people trying to guide youth in a positive way,” Campos said. 

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore described the impact of social media on violent activity as “dramatic.” 

“What used to be communicated on the street or in graffiti or tagging or rumors from one person to another, it’s now being distributed and amplified on social media,” he stated. “It’s meant to embarrass and humiliate others.”

So, what are social media platforms doing about the increase in violence due to their platform? 

“Rachel Hamrick, a spokesperson for Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said the company has spent about $16 billion in the past seven years to protect the safety of people who post on its apps, employing 40,000 people at Facebook who work on safety and security,” KFF Health News reported.

“We remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety,” Hamrick explained. “As a company, we have every commercial and moral incentive to try to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on Facebook. That’s why we take steps to keep people safe even if it impacts our bottom line.”

But social media platforms’ efforts don’t make much of a difference. 

Rev. Cornell Jones, a group violence intervention coordinator for Pittsburgh, added that “social media puts everything on steroids.” 

“We are dealing with young people who don’t have great self-esteem, and this ‘love’ they are getting on social media can fill some of that void,” Jones expressed. “But it can end with them getting shot or going to the penitentiary.”

Campos added, “You can’t tell them to delete their social media accounts. Even a judge won’t tell them that. But I can tell them, ‘If I were you, since you’re on probation, I wouldn’t be posting those kinds of things.’”

At the beginning of his career, Campos “said if I can save 10 lives out of 100, I’d be happy. Now, if I can save one life out of 100, I’m happy.”

Movieguide® previously reported: 

US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, has said that he believes 13 is too young for children to join social media platforms. 

“I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early, it’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children,” Murthy said.  

Many large social media platforms such as Meta and Twitter currently allow users to join their platforms at the age of 13. With little regulation when it comes to age, these companies have no real incentive not to allow younger kids to join, especially when their competitors are. 

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.

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4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.