Time:  Feb 29, 2024
Location:  12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Location:  Virtual

The rapid spread of behavior, attitudes, or emotions through a social group – also known as social contagion – has been documented and debated for centuries. Today, the large volume of available digital content and the hyperspeed of its dissemination through powerful social media algorithms may be creating a new and powerful avenue for contagion.  How might content on social media or in TV shows and movies impact symptoms of movement disorders, self-harm and even suicide?  What should parents and caregivers know about viral social media challenges?  What should a caregiver do if they are concerned their child may be susceptible to contagion behaviors from online content?

Children and Screens held the #AskTheExperts webinar “Copycat: Social Contagion, Online Viral Behavior, and Youth” on Thursday, February 29 at 12pm ET. A panel of psychiatrists, behavioral researchers, and public health experts discussed the current research on associations between media content, youth behavior trends, and mental health outcomes, and shared signs parents and caregivers should be aware of that may indicate vulnerability to negative effects from social contagion.


  • Vicki Harrison, MSW

    Program Director, Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Andrea Giedinghagen, MD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine
  • Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, PhD, MMSc

    Professor of Public Health, Head of the Public Mental Health Research Unit, Deputy Head of the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Medical University of Vienna
  • Pamela Wisniewski, PhD

    Associate Professor of Computer Science, Flowers Family Fellow in Engineering, University of Vanderbilt

Video and Resources

Watch a recording of the webinar "Copycat: Social Contagion, Online Viral Behavior, and Youth," read the transcript, and view other related content in Learn and Explore.