Panic on ‘social media stress’ debunked

This week’s moral panic on youth and new media was called ‘social media stress’. Two clever entrepreneurs behind a foundation called Nationale Academie Media & Maatschappij [National Academy Media & Society] published a report warning about the dangers of this new phenomenon. Several media picked it up without any form of critique, including the news on the public broadcaster.

I wrote a blog post on the report, criticizing the study, the authors’ intentions behind it and the journalists who failed to see the flaws. The post was picked up rapidly on Twitter and was also published by De Nieuwe Reporter, de Volkskrant and the Belgian site Mediakritiek.

Central to this affair is the amount of money that can be made inciting fear about young people. The government spends a lot of money on initiatives on media literacy based on such fears. When the fear mongers are also the people benefiting from these funds, a watchdog is needed. It is clear that conventional media have failed in this. One might think this is due to budget costs, but this shocking interview with the editor-in-chief of the public TV news points to something else: he does not see it as his responsibility. Thank goodness there are bloggers. Alexander Pleijter from the university of Groningen wrote, based on this case of social media stress, this blogpost on bloggers vs journalists: who to believe?

The authors of the report responded on Thursday, a comment which failed to convince. My reaction to them was published on DeJaap. It appears that the matter is far from over.

Updates: 

It appears that the Nationale Academie Media & Maatschappij is presenting false accreditations.

The professor that was heard by the public broadcaster has responded that he never said the study was reliable.