Leading experts in psychological maltreatment Issues New Study Analyzing the psychologically maltreating of Youth in Social Media Video Content.

NEW YORK, Jan. 17, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — TikTok, the online global phenomenon with over a billion users, has been implicated in failing to moderate problematic behavior from carjacking to eating disorders, and new research shows that psychological maltreatment of children can be added to that list.

A new study conducted by the Psychological Maltreatment Alliance found that parents who post videos psychologically maltreating their children are rewarded by TikTok with a staggering 60-fold increase in viewership, motivating these parents to post their children more often and normalizing these harmful behaviors for millions of TikTok viewers.

To conduct the study, researchers found videos of parents engaging in psychological maltreatment behaviors (PMB) such as mean pranks, mocking a crying child, and encouraging children to fight. All videos on these parents’ profiles were coded for engagement numbers, so researchers could compare PMB videos with non-PMB videos within the same profile. Researchers found that the PMB videos generally had significantly higher engagement numbers than other videos on the profile, both with and without children. “There is clear social reinforcement in the form of engagement, but also possible financial reinforcement, since TikTok can become an income stream for high-engagement creators,” said Naomi Chandler-Ofuya, co-author of the study.

“Psychological maltreatment is as serious as other forms of abuse. This ‘adverse childhood experience’ is associated with long-term impacts on children’s physical, social, and psychological health,” said Marla Brassard, psychological maltreatment expert and study co-author, “Those impacts occur even when psychological maltreatment is happening in the privacy of the home and are magnified when posted on social media for others to see.”

“Social media companies should use the same content moderation policy for psychological maltreatment behavior as they do for other content depicting harm to children,” notes lead researcher Bri Stormer. “Social media platforms should step up because overburdened state child protection systems lack the technology to address this problem,” said co-author Janet Rosenzweig. Authors also recommend that professionals create educational materials to help parents consider how they post their children. Stormer added, “This type of education could help prevent psychological maltreatment, as well as other forms of harm associated with over-sharing children online.”

The Psychological Maltreatment Alliance is a cooperative initiative that develops research, policy, and training to eliminate psychological maltreatment and promote child well-being.

For more information contact Dr. Amy Baker DrAmyJLBaker@gmail.com or Bri Stormer at info@psychologicalmaltreatment.org.

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SOURCE The Psychological Maltreatment Alliance

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