A report by the HM Inspectorate of Probation in the U.K. reveals that social media use has now become a contributing factor to serious violent and sexual attacks committed by children and adolescents. According to the report, young users are known to plot crimes online that would have been otherwise inconceivable in the past. Youngsters are now planning and committing offenses through their smartphones and computers in their bedrooms, the watchdog cautions.
The report cited a case where social media sites -- such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube -- have been directly associated with juvenile crimes. The experts noted that troubled young users usually start arguing with each other online before escalating the fight into physical altercations in the streets or on public transportation. The watchdog group also warned that young people are being subjected to blackmailing, where perpetrators pressure victims to upload indecent images online and use them to harass the other person.
Likewise, the report cited another instance where gangs are using social media platforms to incite violence. The experts noted a case where a gang member appeared in a viral film taken outside his home, only to be tracked by a rival gang's member who harassed and threatened the victim. The experts also cited an online gang video that promoted guns and violence which they linked to the murder of a 14-year-old boy.
"Social media is a large part of young people’s lives, and we found it featured often enough in the build up to a serious offense. Many of these young people shun Facebook and other common applications, in favor of lesser known and, therefore, more private media. We found offense scenarios inconceivable just a few years ago, with social media used to both incite and plan crime," Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey told Daily Mail online.
Data from the UBS Evidence Lab survey shows that 65 percent of teens used Facebook on a daily basis in November 2016, up from only 59 percent in November 2014. Likewise, the survey revealed that one in three teens polled have reported an increase in Facebook use, while a similar number are expecting to spend the same amount of time on the social media website. (Related: Social media addiction can ruin your health.)
"Facebook may not be the most fun part of teens' social media usage these days. However, penetration is so high that it's well suited for more utilitarian purposes, like finding out when to show up for some event or connecting with someone for a group homework project. For that reason alone, the notion of a teen exodus from Facebook is likely to remain pretty mythical for the foreseeable future," senior analyst Mark Dolliver has reported in an eMarketer.com entry.
A study carried out by researchers at The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research has also revealed that 76 percent of teens in the U.S. use Instagram, while 75 percent use Snapchat and 47 percent use Twitter. The study also showed that black teens are more likely than their white counterparts to use social media sites and messaging applications. Likewise, the findings revealed that teens are more likely to use tablets, laptops, and smartphones compared with desktop computers in accessing the social media sites.
"Understanding how teenagers use devices like tablets, desktops, and laptops may seem like old news. But the varying degrees of access of different groups to these platforms have implications for education and future facility with tech tools, including those needed for the workplace," report co-author Amanda Lenhart has stated in a Science Daily article.
Keep yourself informed of your children's tech habits, as well as other technology-related studies at Progress.news.