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Social media helping young people understand crisis in Ukraine


(WGHP) — Firsthand accounts of the violence in Ukraine are shaping the ways young people in the Triad grasp the scope of the attacks. 

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FOX8 spoke with several college students at the University of North Carolina Greensboro about the impact of social media on their view of the conflict. 

 “I’m seeing videos. A lot of people huddling in the streets. People trying to evacuate as fast as possible,” said Sebastian Newlin, a sophomore. “It shows that this is a big deal. this isn’t some sort of conflict going on that is something that’s going to go away in a couple of weeks. This is a big deal.”  

Newlin lived in Kyiv for two years before coming to North Carolina in 2020. 

“I felt terrible. I still have friends in Ukraine,” he said Friday. 

Videos of siren warnings and people sheltering in subway tunnels are shaping conversations between students with friends and family.  

“Before you read the words that someone else is writing from their nice home in Saratoga Springs or New York or even here in Greensboro if you see a video from Ukraine, that’s all you need to see, that’s all you need to see, then the words should follow,” said Elijah King, a sophomore.  

“We’re witnessing history, and in a lot of cases, it’s unfiltered history, which is good and bad,” said John Mims, who chairs the Department of Strategic Communication at High Point University.  

He’s warning his students to remain skeptical about what they see. 

“If you see something, and it’s from someone who reports to be there, recognize they may have an agenda, and to look and see if there are maybe other corroborating videos that show the same thing,” Mims explained. 

He says this is one of the first times most countries are able to upload videos to the world by cell phone during a major conflict, and young people are taking notice.   

“I’m not necessarily sure they’re more engaged, but I think that they’re certainly letting their voices be heard, so we know how they feel about it,” Mims said. 

Students told us they aren’t just relying on social media for the full picture. Many of them get alerts from a variety of other sources.   

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