Here’s why millennials post harmful personal content online, according to a study.
It’s beginning to become a norm — young adults, or millennials, on the internet posting harmful personal stuff online specifically on popular social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
A group of researchers looked at this new age problem via the participants in Britain and Italy. They wanted to know whether this risky behavior is more likely linked with spontaneity or deliberate self-monitoring, or with impulsivity.
Here’s the gist of the results they’ve posted:
Stating the obvious on the first line, experts said that social media use is “pervasive among young adults, yet with so much emphasis on maintaining a good online reputation.”
That is exactly true, but here’s the mystery: why do some young adults post potentially negative or damaging content, including images?
To look for the answer, they’ve investigated psychological factors that may influence risky online behavior namely self-monitoring and impulsiveness. They’ve expected that higher self-monitoring and impulsiveness would predict higher rates of risky online posts.
They’ve mentioned the three types of risky self-destructing posts: alcohol/drugs, sexual and personal offensive.
For both British and Italian participants, weekly time spent on social networking sites (SNSs) was correlated with the number of SNSs used, and with sexual content disclosure, and alcohol and/or drug content disclosure for the Italian participants. For both samples, publishing offensive content was significantly related to posting risky content in the three types mentioned.
They added that “the impulsiveness scale was significantly positively correlated with alcohol/drug, personal information, and offensive content postings for the British participants, and with alcohol/drug postings and offensive content for the Italian participants.”
“Scores for Self-Presentation were negatively significantly correlated with offensive content postings for the British sample,” they added.
Meanwhile, self-monitoring, they claim, was significantly related to risky online posts in both samples. For Britain young adults, significant correlations were found for alcohol/drug content, sexual content and personal content. For the Italian participants, there was a significant link between self-monitoring and alcohol/drug content, offensive and personal content.
Participants from the United Kingdom scored higher on impulsiveness, but lower on self-monitoring and uncertainty avoidance, and slightly higher on indulgence, compared with the participants from Italy. However their study did not support their hypotheses that the processes underlying risky online posting (the impulsiveness, self-monitoring) differed by country.
Although they still ‘cautiously’ conclude that the psychological processes affecting risky online behavior might be similar across culture.
For instance, self-offensive posts in the United Kingdom were more likely higher because millennials there drink more alcohol than their Italian counterparts. This of course could be attributed to the binge- drinking culture in the United Kingdom.
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