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FERC rule to spark energy transmission building nationwide; Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty to felony charges in AZ election interference case; new digital tool emerges to help MN students with FAFSA woes; WY governor to talk property tax shifts in a TeleTown Hall.

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Israel's Prime Minister calls the new ICC charges unfair. Trump's lawyers found more classified documents in Mar-a-Lago, months after an FBI's search. And a new report finds election deniers are advancing to the fall election.

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Americans are buying up rubber ducks ahead of Memorial Day, Nebraskans who want residential solar have a new lifeline, seven community colleges are working to provide students with a better experience, and Mississippi's "Big Muddy" gets restoration help.

Research shows harmful social media content impacts Black youths

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Monday, January 29, 2024   

Social media platforms are used by practically everyone but most widely by teens.

One study pinpoints a link between online racism and higher rates of stress and suicide among Black youth, ages 10-19. Suicide is already the third-leading cause of death among Illinois teens, so the new findings are troubling.

Online racism includes jokes and misinformation but also censorship, or the removal of content posted by Black users.

Raquel Martin, clinical psychologist and professor at Tennessee State University, explained social media is often a representation of what is happening in everyday life.

"Having social media provides you with an opportunity to see how people that look like you are being treated in their own city and state and country," Martin pointed out. "And acknowledging the fact that is not often good."

The study revealed Black teens with repeated exposure to racist posts internalize the content as threats, resulting in trauma-like symptoms and emotional distress. The Social Media Victims Law Center explained online anonymity and beliefs in digital freedom of speech are seen as justifications by those who post white-supremacy ideology.

Another study found young people experience an average of five posts including racial discrimination per day. Teens may see the content as teasing, not racial harassment, allowing cyberbullying to thrive. Martin argued the apps commonly used by teens could do more to rein in the negative content.

"I am not naive enough to think that individuals in the social media realm aren't aware of this," Martin noted. "They're very much aware of it. But I also don't think they very much care. A lot of the time, the things they care about are losing money."

A 2022 study from the Illinois Department of Public Health reported nearly 12% of Black youth attempted suicide and nearly 16% had suicidal thoughts.

Recommendations to counter harmful online content include community, faith-based, and mentoring programs; and to address the stigma in the Black community of seeking therapy and connect teens to mental health resources geared toward youth.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, don't hesitate to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.


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