UNC Study: Overusing Social Media May Negatively Impact Adolescents

With social media rapidly becoming the main source of communication between teens, some concerns of developing key interpersonal skills have arisen.

Researchers at UNC and NC State University collaborated in a new study on the potential for negative effects when overusing social media as an adolescent.

“With electronic communications, there are fewer interpersonal cues,” Jacqueline Nesi, the lead author of the study said, adding, “You’re not seeing facial expressions or using nonverbal communications. So, the predominant use of social media may limit the opportunity to practice in-person conversations that are crucial for adolescents, particularly boys, to develop important skills.” 

This study consisted of analyzing 487 adolescents at two separate time periods, one year apart, to determine the amount of time spent communicating via texting and social media outlets versus communicating in person or over the phone with their partner.

Nesi and her colleagues focused on assessing two main relationship skills, the ability to manage conflict and asserting their needs within their relationship. They found that teens who spent more time communicating with their partner using texting and social media outlets, struggled portraying those relationship skills, more prominently shown to effect the boys in the study.

“Social media allows adolescents to be in touch with their peers 24/7. It’s a great vehicle to allow adolescents to feel like they’re connected to those who are most important to them in ways that people who grew up before the social media age can’t imagine,” said study co-author Mitch Prinstein, adding, “But in the area of handling some of the tricky parts of relationships, it looks like the more adolescents are using these electronic forms of communication, the worse they’re doing over time in some of these traditional skills.”


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Throwback: Remember when Bill Cosby wrote a Grammy-award winning album in 1971 called Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs? Now we know the irony of him having a hit song surrounding the message “Say no to pills.”

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UNC Police Make Arrest In Social Media Bomb Threat

**UPDATE** UNC’s Department of Public Safety has announced that they have made an arrest in conjunction with the bomb threat. A statement released on Alert Carolina at 5:00 pm reads: “The Department of Public Safety has made an arrest in its investigation into threats to campus safety made early Thursday morning on social media.  As stated earlier today, there is no threat to the campus at this time.  Students, staff, and faculty should go about their normal routines.”

A warning posted Wednesday on the anonymous messaging service Yik Yak had UNC students worried. The message warned of a possible explosion in the Pit on campus at noon, followed by a message posting the address of Columbine high school.

The original post read: “To all my friends, don’t be in the Pit tomorrow at noon. Things will be getting a big explosive.”

yikyak threat

Yik Yak is a location-based messaging app that allows users to post without identifying themselves. It’s popular on college campuses around the country. But while messages may appear anonymous, the developers of the app say some information, such as a user’s IP address, will be collected and could be turned over to authorities.

Coming on the heels of a shooting at Florida State University on Wednesday night that left the gunman dead and three students injured, students at UNC took to social media to voice their concerns about school safety and their frustrations with the Alert Carolina warning system.

From Overheard at UNC:

-Why is AlertCarolina not saying something about this? Even if they don’t have it figured out yet they should at least let us know that someone is looking into the issue. We shouldn’t  have to rely on social media for all our information about something like this.

-Serious question: should we go to classes in the Pit area around that time, or is it worth emailing professors and staying home? I don’t think you can be too cautious about a bomb threat, or any threat of violence on a college campus, but I wish I had more official info.

From Yik Yak:

-My mother actually told me to skip my chem lab final and stay in my apartment

-Maybe Alert Carolina should start using yik yak. More people would probably read their updates.

This is not the first time the Pit has been targeted for violence. In 2006, Mohammed Taheri-azar drove a rented SUV into the courtyard where students gather, injuring nine people. He was later sentenced to serve up to 33 years in prison on two counts of attempted murder.

Thursday morning, the university released a statement on Alert Carolina to let students know police officers were aware of the threat and investigating it, but officials stressed that with no active threat on campus there was no need to change daily routines.

From Alert Carolina:

11/20/14, 9:30 a.m.

Timely Warning: Police Investigating Social Media Claims; Continue Normal Activity

The Department of Public Safety is aware of and investigating threats to campus safety made overnight on social media.

Police say there is no threat to campus at this time.

The campus is operating under normal conditions. Students, faculty and staff are advised to continue their normal routines.

The Alert Carolina website will be updated as soon as more information is available. It could take hours for police to resolve a situation depending upon the circumstances. Meantime, if you are directed by police or University personnel to take specific action (evacuate a building, stay out of a certain part of campus, go to your residence hall and stay there), please comply immediately.

If you see suspicious activity, call 911. But do not call 911 or the Department of Public Safety merely to ask for information about the current incident. Police phone lines need to be kept open for emergency communications. Anyone with information about this incident should call the Department of Public Safety 919-962-8100.

Students and employees can let their families know they are okay in the event of an emergency while keeping cell phone lines open for emergency calls by using the American Red Cross Safe and Well list. The Safe and Well list is especially helpful in communicating with family members who are outside the emergency area: www.redcross.org/safeandwell.

Students who are in need of medical attention should go to Campus Health Services campushealth.unc.edu) or the UNC Hospitals Emergency Room. Faculty and staff in need of medical attention should go to the UNC Hospitals Emergency Room.

A range of support services for students is available through the Office of the Dean of Students, deanofstudents.unc.edu/.

Counseling Services for students are available at UNC Counseling and Psychological Services, campushealth.unc.edu/caps. For a concern about a coworker, call Employee and Management Relations in Human Resources (hr.unc.edu/employee-management-relations/) or 919-843-3444, or the University’s Employee Assistance Program (services provided by ComPsych 24 hours a day), 877-314-5841.

Questions about sexual assault can be directed to Deputy Title IX Coordinator/Student Complaint Coordinator, Ew Quimbaya-Winship, 919-843-3878.

For community services, call UNC Department of Public Safety Crime Prevention Officer Sgt. Megan Howard, at 919-966-3230.


NC House Passes Social Media Privacy Bill

RALEIGH – A bill forbidding employers and universities from accessing private email or social media accounts of workers and students has passed the North Carolina House.

The bill that passed Thursday prohibits employers and universities from demanding access to the private accounts of applicants, employees and students. The bill provides a number of exceptions, including cases of employer-held devices or accounts and criminal investigations.

The bill’s sponsors said a number of other states have enacted similar bills that help define privacy in the digital age.

Rep. Paul Stam of Apex said he’s worried about the implications for employers who may have good reasons for asking for access to personal accounts.

The bill passed the House 76-36 and will now head to the Senate.


Social Media Uses In Local Gov’t Vary

CHAPEL HILL – As technology becomes increasingly important in today’s society, several branches of the local government are turning more to social media to communicate with the public—but some officials are still cautious about making the shift.

For the Chapel Hill Police Department, Sgt. Josh Mecimore says officers are primarily focused on using Twitter instead of Facebook for up-to-the-second news.

“In the past, we’ve kind of put out the same content on both services,” he says. “Moving forward, I think you’ll see more of the current events and up-to-the-minute kinds of things on Twitter, and then we’ll use Facebook for more of the information about ongoing investigations, trying to elicit information from the public, and more detailed information about things we’re doing around town.”

Mecimore says the CHPD’s Twitter page seen particular success when it comes to traffic enforcement announcements.

“When we put out that our traffic enforcement is out doing doing speed enforcement or stop sign violations in a particular part of town, that’s one of the things that gets re-tweeted the most by people,” he says. “That seems like it’s of great interest of people, and they want to send it out to their followers so that they know we’re doing speed enforcement somewhere and we’re not trying to hide it.”

But unlike Chapel Hill, the town of Carrboro hasn’t set up social media sites for law enforcement.

“The town has a Facebook and Twitter account, but there’s not a separate one for the police department at this time,” says Lt. Chris Atack of the Carrboro Police Department. “So, if there’s any sort of information that needs to go out about upcoming events or other public safety issues, we usually use those two outlets.’

Still, Atack says the idea isn’t off the table for some point in the future.

“It’s been an avenue we’ve been looking at for a period of time because there are obviously departments in the area that have Facebook presence specifically, and there’s certainly usefulness in that application,” he says. “So that’s something we’re exploring.”

For the Town of Hillsborough, Facebook has been a useful tool in the apprehension of suspects. According to the town’s website, in March 2012, officers started using Facebook to request tips from the public—since that time, 14 posts have resulted in suspect identifications or arrests. Facebook tips have also led officers to recover numerous stolen items.

Meanwhile, in the educational branch of local government, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board member James Barrett says while social media can be valuable, it’s not without its risks.

“I think the biggest risk is that it’s very easy to say something that could be taken out of context,” he says. “As is the case with really all electronic communication, there’s no tone, so people lose that perspective on what’s being said.”

The Chapel-Hill Carrboro City School district does have both a Twitter and a Facebook page, but Barrett says right now, the board’s members are leaving most social media projects to district Executive Director of Community Relations Jeff Nash.

“I think Mr. Nash is certainly cognizant of trying to communicate with people more, and so I think he’s looking for ways to do that, but I don’t think it’s been a serious push of the board.”

But Barrett, who recently wrote a blog post on the growing role of social media in local governments, says he acknowledges the importance of social media for the district, especially for sharing images.

“I think particularly our Facebook presence allows us to share photos,” he says. “It’s been great for people to see pictures of things like Northside Elementary going up, for example. We’re definitely moving in the right direction.”


The Social Media Revolution

93% of marketers use social media for business.
That stat is from this video:   “The Social Media Revolution”.

Have you seen it?
If not, I encourage you to watch it (below).
If you’ve already seen it,  you probably want to see it again.

The  video is summed up by this quote:

We don’t  have a choice on whether we DO social media.
The question is how well we DO it.

Erik Qualman

Do you use social media for business?
Has it helped you do more business and/or do it better?
Any success stories to share?

Any suggestions for Chapelboro businesses on how to get help with social media strategy and implementation?