Social Contagion


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To understand how anti-social behaviours such as cyber bullying spread across young people’s social networks and how young people could spread pro-social behaviours across their networks.
To help young people understand these network dynamics and how they can use these to address concerns their local communities have about social behaviour.

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  • It has always been difficult for us to extract ourselves from the social networks which we are in “by default”, whether that’s where we come from (our family), where we live (our neighbours), where we study (classmates) or where we work (colleagues). At least we could escape from one of these, whether that was leaving the house to meet friends, joining groups to take part in a hobby or even communities with whom we have a shared interest. But now all of these social networks by design and by default are online, from your teacher to your boss. Imagine you’re being bullied at school. You look for places you can escape from them. But with young people being virtually born into digital technology, they have nowhere to hide from their social networks – whether it’s their friends or those who bully them. Additionally, it’s much easier for bullies to bully people online – by sending a nasty message or spreading vicious rumours.
  • To understand how anti-social behaviours such as cyber bullying spread across young people’s social networks and how young people could spread pro-social behaviours across their networks To help young people understand these network dynamics and how they can use these to address concerns their local communities have about anti-social behaviour
  • Identify the types of stakeholders in the social network of your target group, in particular those who have an influence on this group Identify trusted people within your service and within the target group who can help you engage with the target group and so they feel ownership of changing their behaviour Identify experts in social network analysis to carry out the research and ensure that the analysis produces findings that can inform practical solutions Identify trainers to help support the group to use the techniques to influence behaviours across their social networks
  • We designed an online questionnaire which we provided to the students to understand 76.19 per cent use online social networks59.18 per cent reported being the victim of ASB (with females being considerably higher than males)53.74 per cent admitted participating in ASB (females being slightly higher than males)48.3 per cent reported being the victim of bullying with 8.45 per cent of these reporting being bullied several times a week43 per cent admitted that they may have orhad definitely acted as a bully23.13 per cent reported being a victim of cyber bullying (more female than male) with text messaging being the main format Of those bullied (by any means) 40.51 per cent did not seek any help, 36.71 per cent spoke to a friend, 29.11 per cent spoke to a family member, 25 per cent spoke to a teacher but only 2.53 per cent used a helpline
  • We analysed how the patterns of social networking use are linked to various anti-social behaviour. We carried out a study of social network analysis on a small group of students to identify their social network structures and how networks are linked to anti-social behaviour. This process included a conference which allowed pupils from the three schools to explore cyber bullying and to identify possible means of intervention. This was followed by pilots in each of the schools. A total of 147 students took part in the project. During these pilots a hypothetical scenario was given to pairs of students in sessions lasting one hour. Students were asked to arrive at an agreed solution to resolve the conflict by using social networks.St Anselm’s School, CanterburyAt one of the sessions at St Anselm’s School two pupils had arrived at the start of the session with a form of unresolved conflict between them. After the session finished, they left chatting to each other and far more open and relaxed about their own conflict. What had been an awkward stalemate between them gradually melted away through working on the tasks together, with an increasingly open manner between them.The Archbishop’s School, CanterburyA clear benefit to the school situation at Archbishop’s was the active involvement of sixth form psychology students in the experiments. In most sessions conducted there were four or more students observing. They asked good questions and often,after the pupils had finished the study, were keen to engage in discussion of why the project leaders did certain things during the sessions and how they dealt with unexpected rudiments during the study. This gave these sixth formers valuable insight into research studies and the sort of research possible in this field.Borden Grammar School for Boys, SittingbourneOne of the key benefits to the way this school used the sessions was the focus on the topic of bullying and the way this was fitted in as part of the wider school education on the realities and dangers of bullying. The project team were asked to participate in a morning assembly for the boys on bullying, where a good discussion, on cyber bullying in particular, took place.
  • We trained young people up to become ‘social reporters’ to uncover stories in the neighbourhoods in which the schools were based to be able to share and disseminate insights across neighbourhood networks. This helped them understand people’s concerns about their own behaviour (such as about the vandalism of the school bus), spread stories of pro-social behaviour (such as organising a Christmas party for older people at the school) and understand how to get involved in pro-social activities in the neighbourhood (such as a book club in a community café). This helps develop the capacity for them to be more involved in neighbourhood networks to develop resilience through spotting and tackling issues together.These included how to shoot on DV (digital video), interview techniques, storyboarding, scripting and social networking. Other learning objectives were to develop an ongoing dialogue between young people and the local communities, with particular reference to anti-social behaviour.  We created a shared site for the students to work on and this was to be shared with the school. Since the training, the students have reported on other local stories and many are keen to continue their roles as ‘social reporters’ for the Academy.  
  • Key findings include the revelation that students using social networks with gesture and facial recognition technology feel more positive towards other students. Specifically, students like and trust their partner significantly more. They are also able to produce better ideas to alleviate bullying issues.Prior to the study, avatar-mediated communication was believed to be less effective than video-mediated communication. However, newer technologies, which respond to facial & gesture cues, improve social interaction. Avatar technology is of particular interest for tackling bullying issues because of its ability to protect users' anonymity.
  • Social Contagion

    1. 1. Going viral Using social networking analysis to influence behaviours FRSA Noel Hatch @noelito
    2. 2. Social networks by design… friends communities groups …by default neighbours family classmates
    3. 3. Understand Support Influence
    4. 4. Understand the context Observe the interactions Analyse the influences Train people to influence behaviours
    5. 5. Understand the context Teacher Analyst Trainer Young people Neighbourhood
    6. 6. Experience of social networks & anti social behaviour
    7. 7. Observe the interactions
    8. 8. Train people to influence behaviours Storyboard Uncover Analyse Share
    9. 9. Help people better understand their behaviours Empathy Reconciliation Collaboration