Online Networks and Social Change

Social Media & Youth Crime

Theis Statement: 

The effect of social media has increased youth criminal levels due to the ability to gloat through social networking sites.


Youth have changed over many generations; even baby boomers had a different social media perspective to what youth have today. Since the advent of social media, things have changed many youth, some positively & negatively. Internet is in almost every youth’s back pocket with a litany of followers. There is an alarming increase of youth criminalising themselves by using social media as an advantage to flaunt their crimes to their followers.


Social media has been an integral part of society today, with everything that an individual posts lasting on the internet forever. There are many social networking sites or apps that youth use, for example, Instagram; Snapchat; YouTube, Tiktok and Facebook. 

Statistics show that 86% of teens use YouTube; Facebook, 75%; Snapchat, 67%; and Instagram, 70% (eSafety Commissioner, 2018). 

Youth describe the platforms as having a constant ability to connect with their peers and see live updates of their peer’s life. Youth describe these as platforms that have the key tool that connects and maintains relationships, creativity and learning more about things

in and around the world (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). Whilst youths are able to see these positives in social networking they are also able to identify the negatives in social media  such as use for drama; bullying; and pressuring peers to present themselves in a particular manner (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). When youths are asked to identify what they typically post about on social networking

There is a clear difference in the type of posts depending on the age of the youth. Most Youth admit to typically posting about their successful accomplishments and their family; some youths post about their emotions & feelings (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). Youth generally have believed that social networking helps deepen friendships and are more likely to equate their social networking use with positive emotions, but this positivity is far from unanimous (Anderson & Jiang, 2018). 

A conversation surrounding youths and social networking recognised the fact that these social networking platforms could be taking an emotional toll on youths. Research on social networking indicated that a youth’s mental health has proliferated in the past few years; many studies explored if more frequent use of social networking is associated with various concerning mental health issues such as depression, externalising and body image (Nesi, 2020). Peer experiences play a critical role in the onset and maintenance of the psychology of a youth (Nesi, 2020). With social networking being in every youth’s pocket, peer interactions can occur with increased frequency, intensity and immediacy (Nesi, 2020). 

Youth are using social media as a way to brag about their brazen lifestyles through sharing footage of themselves committing crimes whilst taunting police (Barron, 2020). A Brisbane’ youth gang’ was allegedly committed for a string of Instagram posts that showed teenage boys joyriding in stolen cars, risking community lives by travelling over 200km/h (Barron, 2020). Illegal drug use, weapons, large sums of cash and boasting about being gangsters was all shared on social networking platforms (Barron, 2020). The youth were also boasting online of their fast stolen cars, jewelry and designer brands such as Versace & the use of emojis to hide their identity on social media (Barron, 2020). On an Instagram account run by a youth, the description read that “account does not endorse crime & is ran for entertainment purposes only” (Barron, 2020). These youth thrive from the notoriety and online adoration that they receive for their petty crimes (Barron, 2020). 

The Queensland Government has noticed an increase in youth offences in Queensland & have moved to crack down on these alleged offenders as these youth continue to gain notoriety by posting their spree of crimes online (Barnsley, 2020). Annastacia Palaszcuk, the Queensland Premier, stated that up to fifty per cent of Queensland youth crime is committed by ten per cent of offenders and the measures she has put in place are to target that minority of youth offenders (Barnsley, 2020). 

The measures that are put into place by the Queensland Government are the ability for Queensland Police to be able to get the resources that they need to start taking action against this crime (Barnsley, 2020). Among some of the measures announced to cull the crime spree by youth are, ramping up opposition to bail when a youth offender poses a significant risk to the community & the establishment of an all-round the clock youth crime police “strike team” (Barnsley, 2020). 

A representative for Sunrise, 2020 was able to interview a member of the ‘South-Side gang” and ask about how the youth brazenly post their crimes of stealing cars, taunting police and speeding for example, to social media. The youth stated that “they pretty much just do it for fun & to gain attention from the community” another stated that “I can just go and do my time. My time in detention was pretty good because we were treated well” (Barnsley, 2020). 

Saint Lane, a twenty-five-year-old Gold Coast musician took matters of youth offending and the power of social networking into his own hands when a group of youth offenders aged between 13 and 17 years of age, stole Lane’s Audi Q5, which belonged to Lane’s recently deceased father (Gramenz, 2021). Most individuals within the community would contact the police & that would be the end of the situation, not for Saint Lane (Gramenz, 2021). Lane took matters into his own hands to expose the crimes when Lane saw the alleged youth offenders boasting on their social media just hours after the police had arrested the group of youth (Gramenz, 2021). 

Lane posted CCTV footage taken by the security footage around his house, allegedly capturing the youth to his Instagram page, where Lane has more than nine thousand followers (Gramenz, 2021). In the days following the initial post, Lane continued to post more information on the alleged youth offenders that included private messages, photos and the youths full names (Gramenz, 2021). 

Although social networking has to protect the youth’s identities who stole Lanes car due to the youth being underage, Lane stated. Lane also posted a video to Tiktok where he was dancing alongside a video of one of the alleged youth offenders & wrote their first names in the caption (Gramenz, 2021).

In Queensland, social networking falls under the same as traditional media under Queensland Youth Justice Act and identifying information about a youth is covered under the Act.

Soon after Lane posted the exposing information on social networking sites, he was contacted by a youth offender who initially apologised. The youth offender stated that they were “unbelievably embarrassed” after being exposed for lying about their family circumstances to their peers and had been set straight from the exposure. Lane said that the youth apologised to their family, and Lane took the video down but warned the youth that the video would be posted back to social media if the youth was caught committing more offences (Gramenz, 2021).  Unfortunately, not long after was back to offending and posting their petty crimes on social networking sites. 

Saint Lane interviewed a mother of a youth offender who agreed that social networking is a contributing factor to these youth acting out for attention online and within their community (Gramenz, 2021). Lane has said that social networking is the be all end for these youth offenders; it is bigger than the law. Lane stated that by him calling out the youth offenders that stole from him, it seemed like the only way that the youth could possibly have some remorse for the actions and consider stopping. He said that he holds the TikToks so that if the youth recommit, he will upload them back to social networking for the world to see, a way of revenge (Gramenz, 2021). 

Ross Homel, a Queensland Criminologist, stated that the sentiments of the youth’s interview were typical of prolific, chronic or repeat youth offenders in this community and that these youth offenders had slipped through the cracks (Barnsley, 2020). 

These youth offenders had come from deprived circumstances, growing up in a very income-deprived household (Barnsley, 2020). The youth that is involved in committing such offences & displaying their “gains” on social networking sites are youth that grew up being involved in chronic offending and have troubling pasts such as neglect, physical abuse or even sexual assault (Barnsley, 2020). 

The majority of these youth would have at least one severe neurodevelopment disorder. Difficulties with paying attention, concentration, planning into the future, impulsive personalities and even hyperactive (Barnsley, 2020).

Whilst the Queensland Government wants to reduce youth crime in the community, it is also essential to identify why youth offenders do what they do & look at the causes (Barnsley, 2020). If the Queensland Justice System and other states around Australia continue to put kids in a Detention Centre without giving them the proper help for the causes of the criminal activity, it will continue to lead to a more serious offending further down the track (Barnsley, 2020). Youth Detention Centre are just preparation for the big house – adult prisons. These youth could kill someone if they are not offered the proper treatment and interventions that they need to stop heading down a severe line of further offending (Barnsley, 2020). 

Furthermore, it is evident that the Australian government should consider funding programs that would educate youth workers in social media because some individuals that work alongside these youth are still thinking that social media is the same as it was back in 2000 and are representing them and guiding them in 2021 (Marsh, 2018). If a youth commits a crime, it is highly likely that the youth will post online to boast about it to their peers and the community or even a fight at high school; it is highly probable now due to social change that the video would end up on social networking sites (Marsh, 2018). Harding, a senior lecturer in criminology, noticed that youth gangs were using social networking many years ago, and the numbers have only doubled since then (Marsh, 2018). He stated that it is hard to prove this as no one has fully taken part in researching as most criminologists are stuck in the past and are not aware of the social change that has happened for youth today (Marsh, 2018). Training and support would help workers understand that (Marsh, 2018).


In conclusion, youth offending is increasing & with social networking devolving by the day it is becoming easier for youth offenders to display the crimes they have committed without being held liable even with multiple laws. The online networking advancement has seen to create numerous positives for youth with social change but unfortunately, the negatives of social networking have also caused downsides to what it has done to the youth of today. Significant training should be provided to those that work alongside youth to better prepare for social changes caused by social networking.


eSafety Commissioner. (2018). Young People & Social Media Usage.

Anderson, Monica. Jiang, Jingjing. (2018). 1. Teens & Their Experience on Social Media.

Nesi, Jacqueline. (2020). The Impact of Social Media on Youth Mental Health.

Barron, Jackson. (2020). Drugs, weapons, wads of cash and 210km/h joyrides in stolen cars.

Barnsley, Warren. (2020). Queensland Government moves to crack down on youth offenders as ‘gang’ members run wild.

Gramenz, Jack. (2021). Gold Coast musician Saint Lane outs teens on Instagram after alleged car theft.

Marsh, Sarah. (2018). Social media related to violence by young people, say experts.

Grove, Christine. (2017). How parents and teens can reduce the impact of social media on youth well-being.

Dennien, Matt. (2020). What is youth crime, and is it on the rise in Queensland?.

Washington, Tyreasa. (2014). Social Media as a vector for youth violence: A review of the literature.

Muller, Karsten. Schwarz, Carlo. (2020). Fanning the flames of hate: social media and hate crime.

Tripathi, Vivek. (2017). Youth violence and social media.

Bostic, Brittany. (2014). Does social media perpetuate youth violence?.

Ghosh, Sheesha, (2017). Does social media induce violence among youth?.

McGovern, Alyce. (2016). Social media and crime.

Cassidy, Tara. (2021). Brisbane teenagers accused of multiple luxury car thefts in Noosa denied bail.

20 thoughts on “Social Media & Youth Crime

  1. Hey jacob!

    This is such an interesting read and a subject that is not thought about to often (I really never even think about this but it is important). I do definitely agree with you that these gangs post their ‘success’ and violence on social media platforms, and this is even seen in news, with the example that occurred not to long ago in City Beach. Its such a tough one with social media not being greatly monitored by parents and is also an aspect that allows youth to be so easily influenced.

    Thanks for an insightful paper!

  2. Hey Jacob,

    Interesting read. Interestingly enough I was actually assaulted when I was 20 by a 15 year old. I reported it to Police and all he got was a speaking to because of the laws that we have surrounding minors in NSW. If he was 3 years older he would have been imprisoned for a minimum of 2 years. My question to you is, do you think that minors should be held accountable more for their actions? Should they be subject to the same laws over 18’s are subject to or do you think that they are too young to know better? In my situation I didn’t react in fear of punishments I may be subject to.

    Thanks again for sharing,

    1. Hi Nick,

      Living in Queensland, young people are held accountable between the ages of 10 and 17. 17’s were originally charged as an adult, however, from the 12th of February 2018 young offenders aged 17 will now be charged under the Youth Justice system. Unfortunately, with how the media portrays young people in the youth justice system they don’t come across as being held accountable for their actions until they are an adult.

      There are debates that setting young people in adult prisons could massively increase the risk of emotional, psychological, physical harm, and sexual abuse. Young people in adult detention has a high rate of suicide. It could also be setting them up for a life of crime. Reforming the youth justice system to ensure it is balanced between community safety and rehabilitation for young offenders could reduce crime in the community signifigantly.

  3. Hi Jacob,

    Very interesting and intriguing topic choice! Personally I have never really considered youth crime as a personal influential problem that is linked to social media but your paper raises some good points! Personally I think that todays youth in particular are easily influenced by personas they see online, and as a result when teens are exposed to ‘crimes’ online the behaviour is normalised in a way. Unfortunately more often than not the personas seen online that promote this sort of behaviour are often seen as ‘cool’.

    Do you think that the possibility of something like an education program during high school years that attempted to educate youth at a younger age on the topic you have discussed would lead to todays youth being more self ware, resulting in social media influence regarding crime having less impact?

    Regards, Jacob.

    1. Hi Jacob,

      There is a chance that an education program during high school or even primary school could reduce anti-social behaviour amongst youth. The majority of crimes flaunted on social media are theft-related. If there were to be an education program it would need to show youth that there are consequences for these crimes and draw attention to the ramifications that it could have on their future. Unfortunately, for the youth that commit offences due to their low socio-economical background, I believe that an educational program would be unlikely to reduce the rate of crime committed.

  4. Hi Jacob

    Interesting topic of choice here. I agree in that social media does create a platform for youth to flaunt their criminal behaviours, and a lot of the people they interact with hype them up or romanticise their actions because they themselves won’t be held accountable. It’s very different to witnessing a crime in person and not speaking out about it. Here, on social media, anything can easily be falsified and sometimes you can’t really know what’s real or not, and so to report any suspicious online behaviour often results in no actions because the evidence of the crime is hard to obtain. I think parents hold a huge responsibility to monitor the behaviour of their children online. Despite this however, I know there must be a sum of these children who don’t have parental figures to tell them otherwise, hence perhaps could be the cause of their extreme behaviour. What do you think of this?

    Good work Jacob.

    – Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle,

      You are definitely onto something. It seems to be a lot of youth that don’t have parental figures turn to their social media to post these anti-social behaviours. To experience the feeling of praise and acceptance that they would usually seek from a parental figure which in their case is not available.

  5. Hi Jacob,

    Thank you for your research paper. I agree that many users on the social networking sites you mentioned can fall into the trap of glorifying criminal activity—it seems to be part of Australian culture, in fact. I can only imagine how frustrated the victims, prosecutors and police feel when trying to help these kids.

    This exposure to petty crime and boasting on social media definitely starts somewhere, and so my question to you is this: What role should these social media networking sites take on in combatting youth crime? Should there be more consistent reviews of content to monitor user’s age and a more hardline anti-crime stance that bans users who boast?

    Thank you again for your very interesting paper!

    1. Hi Isabelle,

      When a post is reported to a social network for breaking its terms (ie. unlawful posts) they need to take a stronger stance towards those accounts rather than just the content posted.

  6. Hello Jacob,

    Well done on your reference, you found some interesting and accurate reference. I would like to know on what do you think about the paper you wrote. It have a great information but I fell it lack your own opinion on this paper. Youth crime have increase by time mainly through cyber bullying. The question that I want to ask is; Even though social media try to ban or block or prevent cyberbullying to happen in online community, is it also important for this millennials to be properly educated on how to use social media before using one.

    Anyway, thank you for sharing your conference paper. I hope it found your interest.

    Best Regards
    Christopher Benson

    1. Hi Christopher,

      In my opinion, whilst I do believe that youth are boasting on social media to their peers with the crimes that they have committed. I do believe that we need to look deeper into their past trauma and figure out how we can help them to have a brighter future away from crime.

      I do believe that an educational training system based on the proper use of social media could help reduce anti-social behaviour in the community.

  7. Hi Jacob,
    You had a lot of good references in your paper, but I can’t help but feel as if you’re retelling a story rather than sharing your own personal opinion. I do agree – adolescents of today are now prone to portraying an idolised version of themselves online, despite who they are in real life. I feel as if the younger generation of today are influenced by infamous rappers that romanticise and glorify the lifestyle of a ‘rich gangster’. I see too often Australian youth’s captioning and sharing posts as if they’re members of a gang – when in reality they go to public school and try to act like someone they’re not to impress other’s around them. It’s quite disheartening.

    Please consider reading up on my paper titled “How the ‘misconception of perfection’ by Instagram Influencers encourages impressionable followers to purchase endorsed products that contribute to idolised body standards.” I talk about how Influencers must create a plastic perception of themselves in order to gain brand sponsorships and endorsements. However, they are setting a negative example for impressionable followers who then develop self-image issues regarding who they admire online.

  8. Hi Jacob,

    You’ve chosen a very good and relative topic to discuss, youth crime unfortunately is a very influential problem is todays every growing social media generation. I’m afraid snapchat and tik tok have made it all too easy to express harmful attitudes and behaviours, but also at the same time glorified it as “cool”. Do you think Snapchat being a platform of eradication and time lines for messages and posts, that it encourages these teenagers to do more harmful and dangerous things? and if so do you think Snapchat would be better off deleted?

    Thank you

  9. Hi Jacob,

    Interesting paper!

    I think that youths are definitely being influenced by what they see online and how easily dangerous or violent content is accessible by anyone. According to Mc Ara and McVie “four key facts about youth crime: serious offending is linked to a broad range of vulnerabilities and social adversity; early identification of at-risk children is not an exact science and runs the risk of labelling and stigmatizing; pathways out of offending are facilitated or impeded by critical moments in the early teenage years”(2010. p. 179).

    Social media platforms are not monitored by parents enough which lets young people have access to any kind of content that could be influential, and as we know younger people may be more impressionable as there is a lack of strong identity within youth. I think that social media really gives agency to young people to find their identity and see if they can take part in online communities, but this can also backfire and influence them in the wrong direction.

    Hope you have a great day



    McAra, L., & McVie, S. (2010). Youth crime and justice: Key messages from the edinburgh study of youth transitions and crime. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 10(2), 179-209. doi:

    1. Wow Emma! This isn’t my paper but a fantastic read.

      I particularly liked when you said:
      “Social media platforms are not monitored by parents enough which lets young people have access to any kind of content that could be influential, and as we know younger people may be more impressionable as there is a lack of strong identity within youth.” This really resonates with me and I absolutely agree with what you are saying!

      The youth of today are so easily influenced that it becomes both a tool and a weapon to have so much power and, all it takes is the press of one button to influence someone else’s opinion, especially a young kid!

      Thanks for your insight,

  10. Hello Jacob,
    I’ve enjoyed reading your paper. I agree that a lot of these youth gang groups tend to post their “accomplishment” on social media such as snapchat and tik toks which leading them being easily caught by the police. Do you think the detention centre should give them education regarding the danger of their acts and the harm it can bring to people in the community and to themselves in the future?

    Feel free to read my paper regarding how social media can help individuals who are suffering with mental illness:

    1. Hi Alexandre,

      I think that detention centres should continue to use restorative justice programs such as involving meetings of victims, offenders, and communities by the an offender meeting the victim it gives an incite into what the other person felt when the crime was committed.

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