Social media: Experts seeing alpha male behaviours in 11 year olds

The alarming rise of alpha male culture continues across the country, with one expert seeing Australian boys as young as 11 being heavily influenced by content promoted on social media.

The “alpha male” is defined by his followers as someone who takes charge, is hypermasculine, with everyone wanting to be him and women wanting to be with him.

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A study conducted by Dublin City University (DCU) has shown that social media algorithms are amplifying the concept of male supremacy and misogynistic content.

Researchers created 10 experimental puppet accounts on YouTube and TikTok and found that all of the male-identifying accounts were inundated with anti-feminist, masculinist and extremist content.

This occurred regardless of whether the content was searched for and accounts received it within the first 23 minutes of the experiment. If the account showed interest, the amount of this type of content increased significantly.

After 400 videos, the study found that the majority of content posted to the accounts fell into the manosphere (alpha male and anti-feminist) genre.

In addition to content promoting female subjugation, anti-equality, male motivation, mental health and earning money, it was found to target boys’ emotional and financial insecurities.

This type of targeting by the algorithm comes as no surprise to Australian Psychological Association president Sahra O’Doherty, who told NewsWire that this type of content targets “men’s insecurity about themselves.”

“What we often see as psychologists are young men who feel quite lost, don’t feel like they belong or don’t fit in,” he said.

«Or they have had negative experiences with friendship groups or with people they would like to hang out with, often women, and feel the need to improve themselves.

“The alpha bro marketing that is being shown to these young people is playing with the idea that if you have this particular product, then you will excel at the gym and excel at dating and have all these wonderful things that I’m about to do.” I’ll show you in this video.”

Ms. O’Doherty works with young men and teenagers and notes that the largest group she sees this increase in are high school-aged boys.

“I see this a lot among high school students, and there’s a lot of research that this is a big problem. It is often associated with misogynistic attitudes or the reinforcement of traditional stereotypical gender roles,” she said.

“And it can often lead to not engaging in healthy conversations or relationships with young women. And, in extreme cases, this can lead these young people to withdraw from society’s conversations.”

What alarms Mrs O’Doherty is that she also sees the behavior of children in primary school.

“He’s getting younger and younger. We’re starting to see it even from late primary school age,” she said.

With the ease with which kids have access to the Internet these days, it’s not hard for them to see influencers like Andrew Tate as role models.

“It’s this aspirational image of people like Andrew Tate, where you see someone who you might perceive as successful or wealthy or good-looking surrounded by women or nice cars,” Ms. O’Doherty said.

“If you scroll through TikTok, or if you scroll through Instagram, there are a lot of people who advertise themselves as dating coaches or lifestyle coaches. And they really fixate on this idea of ​​a really old-school, hypermasculine, stereotypical view of masculinity.

“And they become this aspirational figure, almost a role model for many of these young people. And when they get sucked into that kind of culture, then it can be really problematic to try to get them out and help them work on themselves and their self-esteem.”

While social media platforms have shut down and removed the accounts of these types of influencers, the DCU found that they had not removed the content itself.

“Our study shows that shutting down influencers’ accounts does not necessarily remove their content,” said DCU Professor Debbie Ging.

“The overwhelming presence of Andrew Tate content in our dataset at a time when it has been deplatformized means that social media companies must address harmful content in more sophisticated ways.”

While it’s easy to say that social media companies need to police the issue better, O’Doherty recommends that parents have “really honest and open conversations” with their children.

“When we have these conversations, we can talk about the kinds of things they might be exposed to on social media without fear of judgment,” she said.

“We’re not going to judge them for watching or engaging in the kinds of things that they’re engaging with, but we want to discuss maybe some of the messages that they’re lapping up when they watch these TikToks.”

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