Talking about #trauma: How conversations about childhood adversity are shared on Twitter

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Twitter is changing how people communicate all over the world — what are the implications for talking about childhood trauma? In partnership with ACEs Connection and The California Endowment, Berkeley Media Studies Group has been assessing how the term "adverse childhood experiences" (ACEs) appears in the media, including social media.

Social media can drive the news agenda and influence how much attention topics get from mainstream news outlets. Individuals and organizations working to prevent childhood trauma also use social media to build relationships and share information with each other. A first step to understanding how trauma appears in Twitter conversations is analyzing hashtags about childhood trauma. On Twitter and other social media platforms, hashtags ("#") help users find others who are tweeting about the same topics.

We selected a set of hashtags that were used in Twitter conversations about childhood trauma and then gathered data about them for one representative week in early 2015.

We found that tweets about childhood trauma used a wide variety of hashtags. However, there was no consistent set of hashtags that a user could search for to capture all tweets about childhood trauma, which could hinder relationship-building among organizations and individuals working on the issue.

word cloud of tweets using trauma hashtag
The trauma hashtag on Twitter.

In addition, two of the most commonly used hashtags — #ACEs and #trauma — were not specific to childhood trauma. As a result, a user searching for tweets with the #ACEs hashtag would be much more likely to learn about the Alaska Aces hockey team than about addressing childhood trauma.

In our report, Talking about trauma on Twitter: An overview of hashtags, we present our findings for each of the hashtags we analyzed and suggest possible next steps for investigating the social media landscape and identifying hashtags for childhood trauma that could facilitate communication and engagement on social media.

This blog originally appeared on ACEs Connection.


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