16 Mar 2017

The Digital Age: Is Social Media Affecting Our Mental Health?

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The Digital Age: Is Social Media Affecting Our Mental Health?

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Bullying has always been part of society, but due to social media’s rise in society, bullying has taken a new form.

The rapid rise of social media as one of the main forms of communication has impacted the lives of thousands of children and teens across the world.

Statistics show that 52% of young people are currently experiencing Cyberbullying in the UK, and that 56% of young people have also said that they have witnessed friends or others being cyberbullied. It is such a growing problem that as many as 42% of young people feel unsafe online.

There are many forms of cyberbullying such as:

  • Harassment – when the victim receives offensive, rude, or insulting messages from the bully.
  • Denigration – this is where false rumours about someone are shared online. Denigration can also include sharing photos of someone for the purpose of ridicule.
  • Flaming – where the bully causes online fights using extreme and/or bad language.
  • Impersonation – hacking into someone’s personal online account and posting pictures or compromised material in order to embarrass them.
  • Outing and Trickery – where someone will share personal information about others, or trick others into revealing personal information, such as compromised photos or messages.
  • Cyber Stalking – when someone repeatedly sends intimidating or threatening messages, or engages in other online activities with someone to make them fear their safety.
  • Exclusion – Intentionally excluding people from social groups through social media, such as being left out of group chats, messages, online apps, gaming sites and other forms of online engagement.

According to Cyberbullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:

  • Over half of young people do not tell their parents when Cyberbullying occurs.
  • More than half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same amount have engaged in Cyberbullying themselves.

In 2016, there were over 11,000 counselling sessions with young children and teenagers who talked to Childline about online bullying issues, with nearly a third of those sessions being about online sexual abuse. These statistics show that the rapid increase in social media usage has resulted in an increase in Cyberbullying.

How Cyberbullying Affects the Mental Health of Children and Teenagers
Cyberbullying can have a devastating effect on the mental health of today’s children and teenagers, as the ever expanding platform of social media has made it easier for Cyberbullies to strike online. Children who are victims of bullying are more likely to experience depression or anxiety, which are among the most common mental health disorders seen in teens and young adults across the globe.

ANXIETY
According to the NHS Choices website:

  • Long-term anxiety can severely impact a child’s personal development, family life, and schooling.
  • Anxiety disorders that start in childhood often persist into the teenage years and early adulthood. Teenagers with an anxiety disorder are more likely to develop clinical depression, misuse drugs and feel suicidal.

DEPRESSION
Depression affects more children and young people today than it has in the last few decades;

  • In 2001, a survey showed that 1.4% of 11-16 year olds were seriously depressed, and in 2004 that figure had raised to 13% for girls and 10% for boys.

Social media and its effects on children’s mental health
We asked the Head of Psychology to answer some questions about mental health in children today; and this is what she had to say:

Do you think that schools today need to deal with their pupil’s mental health?

When asked this question, our teacher emphasised how important it was for schools to monitor, interview and target the children it feels are at risk of being a victim of mental health. She also expressed how the process of dealing and recovering from a mental health problem is a team and multi – professional effort.

How common is it for school – children to have mental health problems?
According to our teacher, there has been a definite rise in mental health problems for pupils of year 7 & 8. This may show that because of the rise of social media used as a form of messaging, there may be a connection between social media’s rise, and the rise of child mental health problems.

Do these problems affect school/social life?
Our teacher told us that mental health problems can have a huge effect on school and social life. In her opinion, it is likely for school children to miss out on education because of serious depression and anxiety, and it can also lead to a loss of desire to socialise. But this can lead to depression and other problems to worsen because of more stress about their school work.

Do you think the rise in the popularity of social media has contributed to children’s mental health?
In her opinion, technology has contributed to children’s mental health problems, and that cyberbullying is the most damaging type of bullying due to the fact that people experience the bullying at home or anywhere, because cyberbullying can reach you anywhere. She also quoted what was said on ITV this morning:

“We are 100% behind this campaign. I hope we can save young lives and show the bullies how catastrophic one tweet, one snapchat, one text can be

For more information on Cyberbullying and help on how to deal with it, visit this link here.

Useful links & hotlines:
•Childline – https://www.childline.org.uk/ – Or call 0800 1111
•http://www.bullying.co.uk/cyberbullying/ – Or call their Confidential helpine – 0808 800 2222
•https://ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/
•https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
•For the non-emergency police, Call – 101

All information correct at time of publication.
By Kate, Dominic, Matthew and Joseff.
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