Think before you click: Urging young men to be critical consumers of online content this Men’s Health Week

This Men’s Health Week, Queensland Police Service (QPS) are encouraging young people, particularly young men, to be critical consumers of social media content.

The negative effects of social media messaging that do not promote respectful and supportive relationships can impact perceptions of healthy masculinity and relationships. Every day, police witness firsthand how unhealthy relationships can become abusive and the impact of domestic and family violence (DFV).

Senior Constable Keith Morris works in the Moreton District Domestic and Family Violence, and Vulnerable Persons Unit. As part of his job, he speaks with people who are impacted by DFV, including perpetrators.

Senior Constable Morris is a passionate advocate of men’s mental health and wants to share with you his industry insights and advice.

Senior Constable Keith Morris with officers from Deception Bay Police Station
Senior Constable Keith Morris with officers from Deception Bay Police Station

From the front line

It is important we understand the cycle of violence. Not all disrespect towards women results in violence, but all violence against women starts with disrespectful behaviour. Harmful gender stereotypes posted online can trivialise, excuse, or justify violence against women and exposure to this may influence a person’s perception of these issues. Police frequently hear sentiments which attempt to justify controlling behaviours, which can be a form of DFV.

“Rigid beliefs and views of dominant masculinity which depict men as superior and devalue women can form the basis of attempts to justify domestic violence against women,” Senior Constable Morris said.

“A recent study has indicated men who hold these rigid beliefs around dominant masculinity are more likely to perpetrate domestic violence, be involved in other offences of violence and other risk-taking behaviour leading to negative health outcomes.”

DFV is often characterised by a power imbalance in a relevant relationship where one partner controls the actions, movement, finances or contacts of the other person.

The impacts of DFV on individuals, children, families, and the wider community is significant and may result in relationship breakdowns, the person using DFV being subject to a Domestic Violence Order or criminal charges.

“Be a critical consumer of social media content”

We all know social media can play a pivotal role in many young people’s lives, but it is up to you, the consumer, as to whether it is for better or worse.

“We often see reels, short videos, or listen to podcasts about a range of topics including masculinity. Some of this content even tells us how to be men, or how to act in relationships, “Senior Constable Morris said.

“There is some really good advice out there, but there is also some really poor advice which may encourage unhealthy relationships that include controlling behaviours which can be a form of domestic and family violence.”

Dangerously, it is also known that unless you follow a diverse range of accounts with varying perspectives, social media often acts as an echo chamber.

The phrase ‘echo chamber’ is used to be describe an environment where a person only encounters information or opinions that reflect and reinforce their own.

Senior Constable Morris encourages you to “be a critical consumer of social media content.”

“If you aren’t sure about something you hear, talk about it with your family, teachers, friends or someone else you can trust who may have a bit more life experience, “he said.

“You may hear short clips from podcasts which you agree with, but it doesn’t mean you need to agree with everything that person says. Be your own person and know that you are responsible for the choices you make and any consequences.

“Remember, you’re not in this alone and it ain’t weak to speak.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic and family violence, you should report it to police.

Support and counselling is available from the following agencies:

More information is also available from the Queensland Government Domestic and Family Violence portal.

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