With the dawn of the Internet era came bullying and trolling; slut shaming celebrities to trolling of sportsmen, abuse and threats, this internet generation has seen it all. Commenting on random timelines often to demean them has become more the norm now !
And now topping this all, the world is faced with yet another dangerous trend among the youth; Self Bullying..
Digital self-harm came into the public spotlight in 2013 when 14-year-old Hannah Smith of Leicestershire, England, had anonymously sent hurtful messages to herself on the social media platform Ask.fm in the weeks leading up to her suicide.
Another teen, 15-year-old Natalie Natividad of Texas, used the app After School to post anonymous messages directed at herself calling her ‘ugly’ and saying ‘she should kill herself’.
After her suicide in 2016, investigators found that Natalie had been the one sending those messages. (sourced)
Self Bullying as it is understood now, is when users self-troll, create fake profiles to send or share derogatory remarks of their own pictures and insult themselves on the internet.
Yes, some people do it all, themselves!
This new form of self-harm was hunted down by researchers in the US, where digital self-bullying is a common practice.
A recent study conducted at Florida Atlantic University suggests that digital self-harm, or self-cyber bullying, is a growing problem among young people. While it might seem counter-intuitive to anonymously spoil your own reputation online, researchers found that around 1 in 20 people between the ages of 12 and 17 had done this in the past.
Out of the 5,500 American middle and high school students that were surveyed, the findings published in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests that nearly six percent of students said they had anonymously posted something unkind about themselves online for varied reasons.
Parents: What to do if Your Child is Cyberbullied; by Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D.
Make sure your child feels safe. It is very important to demonstrate unconditional support, otherwise they may never open up to you again in the future.
Don’t panic, but also don’t minimize the situation or make excuses for the aggressor.
It is vital to collect as much evidence as possible. Seek the help of school administrators if the target and aggressor go to the same school.
Remind children that they can control their online experience by blocking and reporting other users who have harassed or annoyed them.
Explain them that they should not hesitate to unfollow or unfriend anyone who compromises the quality of their online experience.
Try to cultivate resilience in your child when they deal with relational conflict that is minor in nature.
Help them to understand the typical motivations behind why people are hurtful toward others – such as jealousy, personal stress, insecurities, family problems, self-hatred, lack of empathy and maturity, or intolerance, and help them recognize when those issues in their own life need to be addressed.
While boys described it as a way to get attention, girls on the other hand, said that they bullied themselves online because they were feeling depressed.
Among the researchers, an Indian origin scientist, Sameer Hinduja, also a professor at Florida Atlantic University in the US said, “The idea that someone would cyberbully themselves first gained public attention with the tragic suicide of 14-year-old Hannah Smith in 2013 after she anonymously sent herself hurtful messages on a social media platform just weeks before she took her own life.”
Sharing his experience, a city based corporate trainee, Praneet Singh (25) said, “Depression also got to me, when I was 18. An abusive past relationship had made me lose my self-esteem and the confidence to face people. I was bullied on my looks, my personality and was even called a useless brat. She would insult and body shame me among her friends. When I thought that it was the worst thing that happened to me, I started self-harming myself. I would scratch myself, burn and even sometimes never let a wound cure by pricking it occasionally. I was literally living on sedatives and medicines for almost two years. An urge to die also kept creeping in,” he shared.
Lower self-esteem, phobias to opine in public, post traumatic distress disorders, border line personality disorders, anxiety or neglect lead people to feel insecure and thus self-harm themselves.
“Depression is common mostly among women. When fatigue, anxiety, social phobias, post traumatic disorders, bullying, ragging, abuse or molestation remain unattended, they lead to self-harm,” says city based leading psychiatrist Dr Manish Bajpayee.
“It is always advisable to attend to these issue in the early stages and they shouldn’t be brushed off easily. Such people are also sometimes prone to accepting abuse, which may leave a permanent scar for life.
A secure environment, counselling and therapy is advisable,” he adds.
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