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Most people know about cyberbullying these days.
Continual cyberbullying online and through social media platforms can cause and/or increase depression, anxiety, low self-esteem among children, and Latinos especially struggle with bullying and discrimination. Texas even has David’s Law to criminalize and prevent cyberbullying.
But, sadly, there’s a new wave of cyberbullying that’s harming teens’ mental health: digital self-harm or “self-cyberbullying.”
Cyberbullying’s New Victims
Self-cyberbullying is when kids anonymously post hurtful messages about themselves online and on social media.
In a first-ever study of its kind, researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Cyberbullying Research Center asked 5,600 U.S. high school students from across the country about “self-cyberbullying.”
Of this group, 6% admitted to the possibly harmful practice.
Overall, nearly 350 teens had said they posted something “mean” about themselves online at some point.
According to the study, the numbers regarding digital self-harm – like traditional self-harm – may be a warning sign for possible suicide at some point.
“It is not specific to any particular online environment,” study lead author Sameer Hinduja said. “It can occur through SMS [texting], email, social media, gaming consoles, web forums, virtual environments, and any other online platform yet to be conceived.”
A little more than 7% of boys and 5% of girls were found to engage in digital self-harm.
While race and age didn’t seem to play into the risk for digital self-harm, gender did as boys were “significantly more likely to have done so than girls,” the report said.
“While these percentages aren’t large, they do indicate a problem when extrapolated out to the millions of teens in the U.S.,” Hinduja said.
Nearly half of the digital self-harmers reported having done the activity just once, while over one-third had done it multiple times; 13% were found to have done it “many times.”
The report encourages parents and educators to openly discuss this phenomenon with teenagers and adolescents so that everyone can have an understanding of the reality of digital self-harm.
“I’d encourage those adults to also encourage the kids and teens in their lives to always know that they are there to serve as a listening ear without judgment or criticism,” Hinduja said “[They should also] be prepared to offer alternative options for addressing their emotional turmoil.”
Learn more about mental health and Latinos here:
- Talking to Puppets Brings Mental Health into Kid Conversations http://salud.to/2zIzaUz #SaludMinds
- The Dire Impact of Childhood Obesity on Mental Health http://salud.to/2j4BkG7 #SaludDepression
- More Firepower: Bill Gates Joins Fight against Alzheimer’s http://salud.to/2AKiR8T #SaludMinds