Of RNN Staff
(RNN) – Has your child taken the habit of putting a large white text on photos and posting them on social media?
How about a photo of a boyfriend with his girlfriend, looking at another girl? Or do the brains light up with growing liveliness?
If your child has done these things, they are, like a big strip of internet, flowing into the memes.
In addition, according to British researchers, they run a great risk for a series of characteristics that are detrimental to health and behavior.
In a letter to Parliament, a group of researchers from the University of Loughborough in the UK paint a picture of the effects of high exposure or contribution of online memes.
"Such is the pervasiveness of Internet memes that the overwhelming majority of sharers show little or no emotion when sharing these memes: many of which contain inappropriate material or ridicule others by race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, body shape, religion , diet, etc. ", writes the research group. "When viewed in this way, Internet memes have the potential to normalize unwanted behaviors such as trolling, body shaming, and bullying, and the lack of emotion can be indicative of greater apathy toward that practice."
They highlighted, in particular, the spread of memes that shed light on serious subjects such as smoking, potentially eliminating certain stigmas associated with unhealthy habits.
They note that almost a third of children in England are overweight or obese and write "it is necessary to better understand the messages of knowledge and health on health that young adolescents access / acquire on social media and how they respond".
Researchers are seeking funding in a project that can more fully assess these risks, which they call "MEMEotive".
"Internet memes are generally considered fun but they also represent a body of cultural practice that does not take into account the specific needs and rights of adolescents," they write. "If Internet memes pursue political, business or other programs without adequate priorities for the needs of 13-16 year old children, then they have the potential to do large-scale damage."
Researchers are trying to better understand the kind of health information that teenagers share online via memes. Preliminary research, they write, "raised concerns about the perceived lack of emotions associated with sharing memes on Twitter."
"In ridiculing the shape of the body, diet and fitness there is the concern that we are also normalizing obesity, poor diet and sedentary behavior," says their letter.
They conclude that "this type of social media content has largely gone unnoticed, and its effects, impact, prevalence and virality are, at best, poorly understood".
"It is therefore important to investigate this sector and try to influence social policy initiatives … because the potential impact of Internet memes seems to be harmful, yet this damage is hidden in the image and in the text," the researchers write .
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