Video and images of TV news crew shot live on television spreads quickly on social media

TULSA - Like a horrific car accident you can't look away from, experts tell 2 Works For You social media users shared videos of Wednesday morning's shooting in Virginia simply because of how shocking the images were.

Benjamin Peters, assistant professor of communication at the University of Tulsa, said the online saying is "pictures or it didn't happen."

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Which even in the case of the Virginia based WDBJ-TV news crew murder, is why so many photos and videos were shared of news reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward being shot and killed.

"This is live, planned and a real thing that someone is creating for us to watch," Peters said. "If it does set a precedent it is one we need to recognize the larger context for and also think carefully about how we are going forward."

As social media's reach keeps expanding, videos like the ones shared Wednesday can present a challenge for parents.

"I just make sure they don't see it," Tulsa mother Jamie Bigelow said. "I know it happens out there, I just try to watch what they do. I don't want them to be scared of anything."

Psychology experts said it is not clear, though, what type of impact traumatic videos can have on children.

"There are some studies that show this might have some long-lasting affect on kids, or it may actually not have any affect at all," University of Tulsa psychology professor Elana Newman said.

A child's age though can impact what they take away from a traumatic video.

"Little kids may not understand it fully," Newman said. "Now that could lead to more difficulties if they understand pieces of it incorrectly, or it could lead to less difficulties. So some studies find middle age kids have more difficulty."  

 

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