F or all the benefits to mental health a digital world can bring, such as a sense of belonging and information and support for those with problems, there are also myriad dangers associated with online activity.
In the very worst cases, people have live-streamed their suicide and had people cheer them on in the comments section. Meanwhile, cyberbullying and trolling, along with communities and groups on social media that foster, glamorise or even encourage self-harm are pervasive.
Stephen Buckley, head of information at the charity Mind, acknowledges these risks: They can be hugely damaging and possibly dangerous to someone in a crisis. This has come to the forefront over the past decade as more and more children use smartphones and tablets.
Buckley says that people are now used to following their friends on social media and sharing news How does social media affect bullying a new job, relationship, or a holiday presented in the best possible light. But this can have an impact on individual self-esteem.
Pressure on young people may also come from situations where they are being bullied in daily life that then cross over into their digital lives, says Marc Bush, chief policy adviser at Young Minds.
Bush says industry has an important role to play. Today, if you search certain hashtags on Instagram, for example, a helpline pops up. He also cites the report from the House of Lords communication committee, Growing Up With the Internetwhich calls for a national digital champion who can look at the rights of young people online, educate parents and teachers on how to look out for warning signs, and support young people to understand the consequences of bullying someone online.
The greater part of the solution, though, lies with young people themselves. Tamanna Miah, 23, is a campaigner and public speaker from Kent. She describes how How does social media affect bullying coped with being bullied on social media and what it has been like to grow up in a digital world. I suffered from severe bullying and racism from primary school to my all-girls secondary school until university.
When I went home, the abuse continued online. People would comment on photos, status updates, anything that I was doing. Sometimes it was racist or Islamophobic, or attacking my or the way I acted — anything.
People would find a fault and take advantage of the situation. I would be bullied at school, come home and log on to the laptop and it would continue. I hated school and my time in education. I was never happy. I developed severe anxiety and depression as a result.
I tried to get support from my school and was unsuccessful. They said nothing was wrong and told me to do some exercise.
Now I try and be careful when using social media, but I also use it for networking and meeting people. I make sure that my personal activity, photos and comments are restricted, to avoid anyone attacking me publicly or harassing me. Your online life is always going to be present. If someone is bullying you, always tell a responsible person as soon as possible. Make sure you have evidence of everything. Take screenshots or make audio recordings.
Topics mental health challenges. Cyberbullying on social media is linked to
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