Is the internet encouraging children to self harm?


  • Majority (60%) of 11-14-year-olds have shared self-harm images online
  • Half of children who viewed images said they 'felt like hurting themselves'
  • Nearly 8% of 18-21-year-olds have self-harmed or know someone who has
  • In 2014 soaring numbers of children were admitted to hospital for self-harm

Alarming' numbers of children are being exposed to self-harm images online which could encourage them to hurt themselves, charities have warned. 

More than half of children aged 11-14 (60 per cent) claimed they had shared pictures of people self-harming on social media, a survey found.

And more than half of children in this age group who viewed images of self-harm online said they 'felt like hurting themselves afterwards', it added.

The survey of 2000 young people aged 11- 21 was carried out by UK youth charities ChildLine, YouthNet, selfharmUK and YoungMinds.

It also claimed that nearly eight per cent of young people aged 18-21 have self-harmed or know someone who has.

'These findings are extremely worrying and beg concerning questions about the relationship between self-harm, children, young people and parts of the online world,' said Lucie Russell, director of campaigns at YoungMinds.

'Our research shows exposure to images of people self-harming online is far too common among children and young people and that this exposure is having a significant effect on their well-being.

What is most frightening is the young age of children being affected by online imagery, with 11-14-year-olds finding the images particularly upsetting - making them more likely to self-harm.

'Sharing images of self-harm on social media is also more common among these younger age groups, which is also a very worrying finding.'

Emma Thomas, chief executive of YouthNet said: 'We all have a responsibility to share content and images responsibly online and to be aware of how what we post might affect others.

'Far more must be done to educate and empower young people, so they can be safer online.' 

In December last year, MailOnline reported that figures for young boys admitted to hospital for self-harm were at a five year high.

Cases of 10 – 14-year-olds admitted to hospital had increased by 45 per cent over four years, according to Health and Social Care Information Centre figures.

Admissions among girls increased even more sharply, from 3,090 in 2009/10 to 5,955 – a 93 per cent rise.

The rapid rise in cases has been attributed to a ‘24/7 online culture’ as well as bullying, school stress, sexual pressure and family breakdown'.

In January 2014, mental health charities warned of a disturbing trend of young people posting self-harming 'selfies' online, due to the rise in popularity of apps such as Instagram and Snapchat.

They said this is occurring because of the ease of accessing the sites through smartphones - and because many young people also feel they have 'no one else to turn to'.


Source Mail online

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