Autism and social media
Social media, as we all know, can be a very powerful tool for finding out information, for keeping in touch with loved ones or for looking back at fond memories in our lives.
However, we also know how dangerous social media can be in the hands of the wrong people, one big recent example is the 2020 presidential campaign, in which then-President Donald Trump disagreed with the election results and continually posted online about his displeasure and theories about the election without any evidence to back it up.
There are many examples of misuse of social media that involve cyber bullying, identity theft, online predators and even fraud, but have we ever stopped and thought: if this can affect people who do not have any conditions or disabilities, what impact could it have on an autistic individual?
I am Max J Green, and I work full time in IT as a Senior Administrator, I am also an ambassador for the National Autistic Society, Wrestling Travel and Autistic Expert Panel Member for Dimensions UK. I do speeches all over the UK raising the awareness and understanding of Autism and have even been invited to Parliament to speak about these matters to MPs and Lords. I am also an actor and have been on shows such as Holby City and Doctors playing autistic people. And may I say, I do use social media and have done for many years and manage it a lot better now than when I was younger.
Some of the statistics around social media are very daunting, for instance, nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online, 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once, 70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online, only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse, bullying victims are 2–9 times more likely to consider committing suicide and 37% develop depression as a result of cyberbullying. While these statistics affect everybody, when it comes to an autistic person, the results could be even more damaging.
Autistic people may view social media as a platform to interact with others because some may find it difficult to socialise with others in person and, with the recent events of the pandemic, this trend has grown not only within the autism community but with neurotypical people to.
Statistics show that only 16% of autistic people are in full time work, that autistic people were 7 times more likely to be chronically lonely than the general population, and that autistic children are 3 times more likely to be excluded from school.
There are currently 700,000 autistic people in the UK and, with these statics around autism and social media, I feel that if social media is used in the wrong hands towards an autistic individual, it could be extremely damaging to them.
While I was growing up, I didn’t use social media an awful lot. However, when I did, I found that most of my experiences were negative, I was bullied very much not only in person but online. I then decided to join YouTube and follow my desire of editing and entertaining people, and I found a lot of the videos I posted were met with negativity and hateful comments. Despite this, and many nights of having meltdowns, I decided to not allow people to get to me or upset me and, with the support of my family, I was able to get through these instances, however, deep down I still cared what people thought of me and my videos.
I have also had people add me who I do not know, who then have made out they know me from years ago, I have had people ask for money and I even know people who have been hacked over social media.
Having autism, I found it incredibly hard to understand the dangers of social media, I found it difficult to communicate with people on it and I would often compare myself to many other people online thinking why don’t I look how they look? or why can’t I do what they do? without really knowing their story and how they got to where they are.
Social media can make everybody feel good and bad, but I feel it’s about educating people about what is real and what is fake, what is acceptable and what is not, and how we should treat each other. With social media continuing to move the line on all of those items, for an autistic person I find that very scary.
For more information, please watch my video about autism and social media and check out all my links below.
The Dangers of Social Media – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al4RC_qmVcI
Website – https://www.maxjgreen.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/MaxJGreen
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/maxijgreen/