Even though violent crimes have decreased steadily in the United States in recent years, the rate of gun violence among youths in the U.S has remained unacceptably high. Over the past few years, there have been increased mass shooting victims linked to children and youth. Young adults have been the main perpetrators of gun violence as weak gun laws have offered easy access to guns among the youths thus contributing to the increased ruining life among youths (Dodson, 2016). Considerably, the issue of gun violence targets youths between the age of 18 years and 30 years. This paper examines how the use of social media through photos, emojis, messages, and hashtags can be used in controlling gun violence incidence among youths in the United States.
Using Social Media in The Fight Against Gun Violence
The increased exposure to guns among youths has increased the rates of gun injuries and deaths among youths in the United States (Parsons, Chelsea, 2018). This has greatly impacted the psychological and mental well-being of the youths as well as affecting their social interactions in environments such as schools. In such an environment, increased focus on gun violence among youths is vital. Social media platforms have been considered essential weapons in ending gun violence among youths. Thus, the utilization of social media can be an important strategy of lowering gun violence in the digital age.
Social media platforms have become the most common communication platforms and interaction sites among youths in the world. In the United States, there have been more than 20,000 young adults that are victims of gun violence every year (EverytownResearch.org, 2019). An average of fifty-one American youths is shot daily on average. Considerably, when the neighborhoods and schools are not safe due to gun violence the young generation in America is affected. Many youths have been shot by strangers, peers or their family members unintentionally or intentionally. However, research suggests that the majority of deaths caused by mass shootings among the youths are by friends and peers on social media platforms. Only a few of the mass shootings among the youths are done by strangers. Thus taking a look at the comprehensive issue of gun violence among the youths there is a need to reduce the number of young adults that have suffered from gun violence as a result of social media.
Social media offers a holistic understanding of what is happening the society. It communicates the community conditions and thus the kind of interaction among the people. Through using the social media data such as emoji’s, messages, images and hashtags obtained from the participants can be used as a reduction strategy (Patton et al., 2018). For instance, social media data can be used for identification of behavior that is risk such as discussions about past violent activities, mentions of the intention to commit violence and people brandishing guns. Social media data can also be used to get insights into the overall wellbeing of individuals and actions. These data obtained from social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be used for developing interventions and prevention models. Through effective prevention mechanisms, this can be essential in offering information and resources that will effectively disrupt the violence in communities and online among youths.
Additionally, data obtained from the social media platforms can be used to determine the behavior or character of the individual. For instance, an individual who has posted an image of a gun needs to be engaged to understand the reasons for their posts. This is because in most cases this is a form of expression about something. Ideally, a person’s online activity or post can be used to determine their behavior, their intent or what kind of person they are (Patton et al., 2018). It is important to understand that violence is an outcome of continued threats against an individual. Thus, violent behavior results from an action that may lead one to be violent as a way of retaliation for provocation. Concerning this, individual action to another on social media can offer information about an individual’s actions to another.
When a student posts that they are being bullied in school by their peers, they are highly to act out violently by attacking these individuals online (Logan et al., 2016). As a result of cyberbullying, the students that face this may opt using gun violence to retaliate. Therefore, the actions of a student or individual online are essential in understanding their intent. Through monitoring the social media activity of a student, it is easier to identify behavior. Messages and posts that show threats can be used to identify any intention and thus interventions can be done before the actual occurrence. Therefore, through monitoring students’ social media activities, institutions can intervene in threats and cyberbullying thus preventing the students from retaliating with guns.
Monitoring the activities of students online such as posts can be essential in allowing schools to avoid any dangerous situations before they happen or even save a life. Ideally, the issues that students encounter daily are not as a result of social media but are evident on social media. These issues are school shootings, cyberbullying, increased depression and violent acts in classrooms. Since students have been able to share their personal opinions and details online, this has made it easier to detect and monitor their activities and potentially detect dangerous situations. Social media monitoring continues to be essential since the institutions can identify whether the individual has changed their intentions. Ideally, it is important to understand the kind of social media monitoring that is being carried out in schools. It is not about accessing the private messages in the student’s accounts.
Social media monitoring will entail following public comments or stated phrases as well as keywords on social media. For instance, a social media monitoring tool can be used to alert the security staff or school faculty immediately keywords such as guns and violence are used online. Through setting up the required keywords and the exclusion criteria, the security team will be notified in case a keyword appears in union with other expressions. In this case, the school is capable of identifying quickly the dangerous conditions that require investigations. Social media can be used to offer counseling and guidance through identify troubled students that need help. Where necessary, the professionals working with youths should actively rely on social media to better support and inform their practices. For instance, students that are planning revenge on their peers can be offered with advice and counseling ensuring that mass shooting is reduced.
Considerably, schools can work with community-based organizations and security agencies to offer guidance and counseling to troubled students. This is linked to social media monitoring and mobilizing of student’s views on issues such as gun control since they can identify students that are facing problems. Most of the attacks related to mass shootings in the past are individuals that have suffered from bullying and social segregation due to a violent nature and low self-esteem (Beardslee et al., 2018). Thus developing ways through which social media will be used to reduce youth violence is essential. Some of the activities that can be used to lower gun violence in social media include social media campaigns, entertaining, groups and hashtags. Through this, it will be easier to mobilize the youths and support the end of gun violence among the youths.
Social media activities will be essential in reducing the activities of gun violence among youths. For instance, groups can be developed by institutions to help individuals that have been identified as abandoned and segregated in the community. Hashtags are essential since they will attract users to contribute to the topics of interest and comment on various motions being discussed. They are essential in attracting students to offer information on what is happening among them. Hashtags are used to bring about a topic that can be used to influence the change of perceptions and behavior of an individual. Relatively, these activities can be essential in identifying individuals that are potential attackers and thus reaching out to them or the disturbed. Monitoring communications during the discussions can be essential to identify the signs of people that are planning an attack on others.
Through inspiring and entertaining young adults on social media, it will enable the youths to understand and learn the need to lower the use of a gun for violent acts. For instance, rather than just telling young adults to prevent gun violence, entertaining them through the use of social media activity and inspiring them will facilitate their engagement and positive perceptions towards ending gun violence.
Campaigns on social media are also essential in intervening in the intentions of gun violence (Bond and Bushman, 2017). For instance, Instagram campaigns have the probability of providing essential information against gun violence. These campaigns are important in attracting students and engaging to prevent the use of guns. Relatively, they can use social media to direct information that can be used to educate students and training them on the proper use of guns.
In conclusion, social media platforms will play a significant role in reducing cases of gun violence among youths in the U.S. With the increased use of social media among youths, social media can lower gun violence in American schools. Social media monitoring and obtaining of data such as emoji’s, messages, images, and hashtags can be used to monitor the activity of students as well as learn their intentions and behaviors. Through social media activities such as campaigns and hashtags, institutions can intervene to prevent mass shootings and gun violence among students. Education institutions need to work with community-based organizations to ensure that they prevent youths from using guns for violence.