Researchers Say Social Media Affecting Interaction

LAS VEGAS - Social media have become a prevalent part of society, but some say social media websites may be affecting the way people interact on a much larger scale.

At UNLV, graduate students are researching "virtual" societies. UNLV researcher and sociology professor Simon Gottschalk says social media present real dangers to a civil society.

He says social media websites are addictive, seductive and irresistible. He says social media change human brain structure, how people interact, how they think about themselves and their communities and the way in which they remember things.

"There are dangers in terms of our cognitive functions and, as research also suggests, there are dangers to our emotional abilities," Gottschalk said. "When we increasingly interact with people online, and they're invisible, and we're anonymous, and we don't really see them, well, we may tend to be less civil in our online communication."

He says that online communication can adversely affect our offline communication. Those anonymous, hurtful words posted on the computer may lead to less civility among people in real life.

An examination of the comments sections of many websites can reveal numerous negative, mean and hateful comments.

YouTube is trying to alleviate this problem by requiring users have a Google-Plus account in order to post comments on the company's website. This will presumably cut down on hateful comments by requiring posters to reveal their identities.


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