- Critics, insults, discrimination and mockery on social networks particularly affect young people.
- Men are more affected by these criticisms than women, especially if they are part of an ethnic minority.
Beneath their callous appearance, men would be affected by insults and discrimination on social media, especially when they belong to an ethnic minority. This is the finding of a study conducted by researchers from the Robert Stempel College of Public Health and the University of Florida (United States). The results were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
The sounding board for social networks
2020 has been a special year in many ways. Because of the pandemic of course, but also for the social justice struggles that have marked the last twelve months. The issues of ethnic origin, representations in the history and culture of ethnic minorities as well as police violence were widely debated. Like any phenomenon taking place in real life, this debate is exacerbated by social networks, which serve as a sounding board. If positive messages were able to filter, it is especially the insults and hate speech that occupied a large part of the scene. This is what interests researchers.
The study was based on 200 young Hispanic adults between the ages of 18 and 25 from Florida and Arizona. Researchers found that when exposed on social media to posts, photos or videos that featured ethnic discrimination, participants experienced higher levels of depression and anxiety.
“When participants were exposed to ethnic discrimination on social media, directly or through a friend’s page, we found it to have detrimental effects on their mental health. emphasizes Miguel Ángel Cano, professor of epidemiology at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health. A viral video or meme might not always be meant for you, but when you see someone discussing your social or ethnic group publicly in a negative or derogatory way, it can unfortunately have a negative effect on your mental health..”
A lack of benchmarks
The men who participated in the study were much more affected than the women by exposure to ethnic discrimination on social media. According to Miguel Ángel Cano, if men have taken these remarks more to heart, it is because of the stereotypes they have to face.
“Men may be more affected by ethnic discrimination on social media as they are likely to be exposed to more egregious forms of racist / discriminatory content that specifically portray men. Therefore, it may resonate with them stronger or more lastingly, and it may also threaten their concept of masculinity and their perception of social status and power.”
Long before that, studies had already shown that symptoms related to depression and anxiety were more pronounced in adolescents and young adults. Given the massive use of social networks among 18-25 year olds, the content exchanged on the Internet, all the more so when it is discriminatory, is amplified in the minds of young people, which increases the risk of developing mental disorders.