WVPA Sharing

West Virginia University researcher explains study of polarization, extremism on youth

By Steven Allen Adams, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A researcher at West Virginia University said youth in West Virginia and beyond are being negatively influenced by social media content and memes that often escape the scrutiny of parents.

Dana Coester, a professor at the Reed College of Media at WVU, briefed reporters from around West Virginia on her studies of polarization and online extremism during the return of Academic Media Day on WVU’S Media Innovation Center in Morgantown.

Coester, who also serves as creative director for WVU’s Media Innovation Center and editor-in-chief for 100 Days in Appalachia, said teens and young adult males are being targeted by weaponized social media posts designed to push them towards extremism.

“It’s not a fair fight,” Coester said. “Millions of dollars of cognitive theory and behavioral neuroscience go into designing systems that drive individuals to extremes and for great profit. When this is amplified by sophisticated bad actors … the tactics are too complex for children, parents, and individual community members to combat alone.”

To read more: https://www.newsandsentinel.com/news/local-news/2022/10/west-virginia-university-researcher-explains-study-of-polarization-extremism-on-youth/

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