Tynes, B.M., Del Toro, J., & Lozada, F.T. (2015). An unwelcomed digital visitor in the classroom: the longitudinal impact of online racial discrimination on academic motivation. School Psychology Review 44(4), 407-424.
This study was conducted with the participation of 257 African-American and 161 Latino youth in grades 6-12 in order to find out if online racial discrimination occurred with these students and the impact of such experiences. The authors begin by sharing information in a report done by the Pew Research Center showing that adolescents use social media in great numbers including Facebook (71%), Instagram (52%), Snapchat (41%), and Twitter (33%), which is not all that surprising in this day in age. Also unsurprising is the fact that the same report showed that 88% of youth using these online social media spaces have witnessed someone being cruel to another person. By now most adults are aware of the fact that online bullying is real and pervasive among American youth.
This article goes on to discuss earlier findings by Tynes revealing that 42% of minority students have been victims of racial discrimination online, which are further supported by the results of current study. Using interview data, the authors found that images and videos used online to target Latinos portray them as being less intelligent because they are “undocumented” and can’t speak English. The results of this study go on to show that even one incidence of racial discrimination online can negatively impact academic motivation. Simply put, online discrimination can erode a young person’s concept of self-identity and feelings of self-efficacy, which ultimately leads to lower academic achievement. In their concluding remarks, the authors urge educators to develop curriculum that allows youth to monitor and discuss messages they may receive online about their race and intelligence.