Recent research and clinical psychologists now suggest that some adolescents are engaging in a newer form of self-aggression — digital self-harm. They’re anonymously posting mean and derogatory comments about themselves on social media.
According to a survey published late last year in the Journal of Adolescent Health, teens are bullying themselves online as a way to manage feelings of sadness and self-hatred and to gain attention from their friends.
“We were alarmed to learn that 6 percent of the youth who participated in our study engaged in some form of digital self-harm,” says Sameer Hinduja, co-author of the study and a professor of criminology at Florida Atlantic University. He is also the co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center.
“Because teens’ online and offline worlds overlap, digital self-harm is a concern for some youth, making online self-harm an emerging area of research,” says, Susan Swearer, a professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Because the advent of social media has changed the way many teens form and experience relationships, normal adolescent feelings of insecurity, anxiety and loneliness can become magnified as they scroll through their peers’ social media reels. Hinduja says some teens cope with that distress by turning their angst on themselves online.
Just as in the 1970s, when antidrug campaigns were scoffed at by the very people they were targeting, anti-bullying campaigns are also losing their effectiveness. I got a taste of this firsthand last year when I spoke about sexting, online safety and cyberbullying at an all-school assembly. When a student blurted out an obscenity during the sexting portion, the students went wild and didn’t listen to a thing I said. I was frustrated and discouraged. Later, I offered an iPad mini to the student who produced the best video and poster. Even that got little response.
The fact is, anti-bullying clichés have become a shut-off switch. What we really need to be doing is giving students actual skills to prevent bullying. To get that conversation going, I pose this question to students: “Will you accept the identity that others give you?”
3. Use parental controls. Check the safety controls on all of the Android and Apple devices that your family uses. On the iPhone, you can tap SETTINGS > GENERAL> RESTRICTIONS and you can create a password that allows you enable/disable apps and phone functions. On Android devices, you can turn on Google Play Parental Controls by going into the Google Play Store settings
4. Friend and follow your children on social media. Whether it’s musical.ly, Instagram or Twitter, chances are that your children use some form of social media. If you have not already, then create an account and get on their friends list.
5. Explore, share and celebrate.
6. Be a good digital role model.
7. Set ground rules and apply sanctions. Just like chore charts or family job lists, consider using a family social media or internet safety contract. These contracts establish ground rules for when devices are to be used; what they should and should not be doing on them; and to establish sanctions based on breaches of the family contract. A simple internet search for “family internet contract” or “family technology contract” will produce a wealth of available ideas and resources to help you implement rules and sanctions revolving around your family’s technology use. A good example of a social media contract for children can be found at imom.com/printable/social-media-contract-for-kids/.
Managing Your Digital Footprint
Your digital footprint, according to dictionary.com, is “one’s unique set of digital activities, actions, and communications that leave a data trace on the internet or on a computer or other digital device and can identify the particular user or device.” Digital footprints can be either passive or active. The passive digital footprint is created without your consent and is driven by the sites and apps that you visit. The data from a passive digital footprint could reveal one’s internet history, IP address, location and is all stored in files on your device without you knowing it. An active digital footprint is more easily managed by the user. Data from an active digital footprint shows social media postings, information sharing, online purchases and activity usage.
Search for yourself online
Check privacy settings.
Use strong passwords
Maintain your device.
Think before you post
Keep These Apps on Your Radar
Afterschool (minimum age 17) – The Afterschool App was rejected twice from the major app stores due to complaints from parents and educators. It is a well-known app that promotes cyberbullying, sexting, pornography and is filled with references to drugs and alcohol.
Blue Whale (minimum age 10) – IF YOU FIND THIS APP ON YOUR CHILD’S DEVICE, DELETE IT. It is a suicide challenge app that attempts to prod children into killing themselves.
BurnBook (minimum age 18) – IF YOU FIND THIS APP ON YOUR CHILD’S DEVICE, DELETE IT. It is a completely anonymous app for posting text, photos, and audio that promote rumors about other people. It is a notorious for cyberbullying
Calculator% (minimum age 4) – IF YOU FIND THIS APP ON YOUR CHILD’S DEVICE, DELETE IT. This is one of hundreds of “secret” calculator apps. This app is designed to help students hide photos and videos that they do not want their parents to see. This app looks and functions like a calculator, but students enter a “.”, a 4-digit passcode, and then a “.” again.
KIK (minimum age 17) – This is a communications app that allows anyone to be contacted by anyone and it 100 percent bypasses the device’s contacts list.
Yik Yak (minimum age 18) – This app is a location-based (most commonly schools) bulletin board app. It works anonymously with anyone pretending to be anyone they want. Many schools across the country have encountered cyberbullying and cyberthreats originating from this app.
StreetChat (minimum age 14) – StreetChat is a photo-sharing board for middle school, high school and college-age students. Members do not need to be a student in the actual school and can impersonate students in schools across the country. It promotes cyberbullying through anonymous posts and private messaging.
ooVoo (minimum age 13) – IF YOU FIND THIS APP ON YOUR CHILD’S DEVICE, DELETE IT. ooVoo is one of the largest video and messages app. Parents should be aware that ooVoo is used by predators to contact underage children. The app can allow users to video chat with up to twelve people at one time.
Wishbone (girls) & Slingshot (boys) (minimum age 13) – Both are comparison apps that allow users to create polls, including ones that are not appropriate for children. Many of the users create polls to shame and cyberbully other children, plus there are inappropriate apps and videos that users are forced to watch via the app’s advertising engine.
Texas Teen May Be Victim in ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ That Encourages Suicide
Isaiah Gonzalez, 15, found hanging from his closet after an apparent suicide, as allegedly instructed by macabre online game
Nationally, the Associated Press reports that educators, law enforcement officers and parents have raised concerns about the challenge, though these two back-to-back deaths mark the first allegations in the United States about deaths directly linked to the online game. Internationally, suicides in Russia, Brazil, and half a dozen other countries have already been linked to the challenge.
The study also found that girls were more likely to experience verbal and cyberbullying while boys were more likely to experience physical bullying. my note: No news here.
“School-based interventions need to address the differences in perpetrator and victim experiences,” she said. “The key is to use individualized specific interventions for bullying, not a one-size-fits-all approach.”
Bullying is still a prevalent issue, although it has taken a new form by moving online. The two kinds of bullying are different in many ways. However, interventions can often be difficult, since many think cyberbullying is less harmful than traditional bullying, and therefore don’t report it.
Dalton, J. C., & Crosby, P. C. (2013). Digital Identity: How Social Media Are Influencing Student Learning and Development in College. Journal of College and Character, 14(1), 1–4. doi:10.1515/jcc-2013-0001
In the summer, there was an article about physics professor using Minecraft, but that’s not new because an MIT physics professor was using rap in the down of podcasting to teach physics and then another one later on was using Second Life. All of them gone by now…
From: Ewing, M Keith Sent: Monday, September 30, 2013 4:43 PM Subject: Eric Stoller on Digital Identity
A couple of interesting links to comments by Eric Stoller on “digital identity” – which he defines as “made up of their online interactions and exchanges.”
Character Clearinghouse – Interview with Eric Stoller, 2013 Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values, Keynote Speaker