Earlier this week, Met Chief Commissioner Cressida Dick associated social media with the rise of knife crime in the UK amongst children – she blamed YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram for the rising problems.
So, does social media help to accelerate gang culture? We asked our Online Safety Expert Fay Morris to comment.
“Historically, we have always adapted to the changes in the ways in which we communicate. The rise in the use of technology is no different. I always found it strange when I’ve worked in organisations overly keen to teach employees how to use email but not when to use it. Social Media really isn’t any different to that, I find that there are numerous organisations teaching the basics of how to set up accounts and how to use platforms yet very few advising on the appropriateness of using it.
The facts are Social Media provides a mechanism for people to react quickly, to anything which they see online, including arguments which are taking place.
I was always taught that good communication is 55% body language, 38% tone of voice and just 7% words. Of course, in the online world there is no body language or tone of voice. There is little wonder therefore with 93% of traditional communication missing misunderstandings occur and quickly escalate. Those of us who are old enough to remember email becoming mainstream in the workplace will remember the often-misinterpreted emails getting misconstrued, resulting in a telephone call to clarify the context. What we are seeing now is merely an advancement of that on social media no longer is that issue confined to the workplace and in a one to one email, it’s now in our everyday lives and for all to see.
Due to this and the efficiency of social media arguments/problems to escalate very quickly and the reactions to this can be fatal as we’ve seen over the last few months.
That’s why we believe education is vital.
At National Online Safety, we believe in a community education approach to social issues. If we’re able to educate parents, community leaders and the wider community about the dangers which the online environment presents, then we can all play our part in protecting our children and young people when needed.
We know that other factors also play a huge part in the problems which we see affecting communities, but we’d urge parents/carers to make a conscience decision to talk to children and young people about their online activity and seek help. All too often we see disaffected youths find acceptance online in inappropriate communities.
Schools have a vital role in educating young people around online risks and this now forms part of the National Curriculum. We’d encourage schools to work with parents and point them to resources and other help which is available. It’s crucial that communities adapt a consistent and holistic approach to online safety, which means educating everyone around internet capabilities, benefits and, it’s risks.”
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