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News Archives

Kids Engaging In “Digital Self-Harm” (South Florida Hospital News)

Friday December 4th, 2020

Source : South Florida Hospital News

December 3, 2020 – Approximately 10 percent of Florida middle and high school students report having engaged in “digital self-harm” – they have cyberbullied themselves. It is an emerging form of self-harm that may be increasing among adolescents, according to a recent study led by an FIU researcher.

Digital self-harm is when an individual anonymously posts mean or hurtful comments about themselves online, according to Ryan Meldrum, lead author of the study and associate professor of criminology and criminal justice in FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs. This behavior was first named following the suicide of Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old British girl who had made negative posts to herself on social media in the weeks leading up to her death in 2013.

Adolescents may be more likely to engage in digital self-harm after being bullied or cyberbullied, Meldrum explained. Being bullied can lead adolescents to have negative thoughts about themselves, and this is known to make adolescents more likely to physically self-harm themselves to distract from the emotional pain, he said. Digital self-harm might follow a similar pathway, where bullying victims turn to the internet to post hurtful things about themselves in hopes that others will respond positively and alleviate the negative feelings that stem from being bullied.

“Now that adolescents have digital outlets where they can go online and post negative things about themselves, they may do so in order to elicit comments from others saying ‘No, you’re not that, you’re beautiful, you’re great,’” Meldrum said. “They’re seeking some sort of validation that may alleviate those negative emotions.”

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