Survival Update

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What Your Kids Could Really Be Doing Online

Photo by <a href="">John Schnobrich</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>

The harm and potential risk posed by Social media are still unknown and unfamiliar to many parents and people. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in cases of “digital self-harm”. This is a term that is not as well known as cyberbullying, and yet it can cause a large amount of trauma to one’s self.

According to Sameer Hinduja, a professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University and the co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, Digital self-harm is when someone posts anonymously, or send themselves hurtful messages or memes and content.

Because of how anonymous this entire process is, many parents might be unable to recognize it at first, but according to Hinduja that doesn’t make it any more dangerous. He has mentioned that this is an ever-increasing practice and that many of those with suicidal thoughts or who have made previous attempts on their lives will often resort to it.

According to a study she published along with his collaborator Justin Patchin, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, the data they collected in 2016 showed that 6% of youth had engaged in this behaviour. What’s more, males were more likely to be doing digital self-harm than females.

To put this into perspective, one out of twenty young people are engaging in this practice. The number also appears to be climbing fast and with COVID-19 and the mental health struggles that ensued, it is much more likely that many teens are engaging in digital self-harm as a way of coping.

The most common reasons for teens to engage in self-harm include self-hate, depressive symptoms, and as a coping mechanism when others are being mean to them. It also allows them to see which of their peers will step up and defend them and which ones will not. This is a distinction that they then use to find who their true friends are.
According to the study, those who do engage in digital self-harm are nine to fifteen times more likely to also suffer from suicidal thoughts.