Research Highlights Upward Trajectory of Digital Self-Harm Among US Teens from 2016 to 2021

The following is excerpted from an online article posted by MedicalXpress.

Adolescents worldwide have embraced social media and online platforms for self-expression and to explore their identity. This freedom, however, can lead to risky behaviors, especially with limited adult supervision. For example, digital self-harm is a recent, emerging trend where individuals anonymously post or share hurtful content about themselves online. This behavior can be mistaken for mistreatment by others, yet the perpetrator and victim are the same person.

To address this growing issue, researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire analyzed three independent national surveys (2016, 2019 and 2021) of teens in the United States ages 13 to 17, to assess the prevalence of digital self-harm. They explored two measures of digital self-harm: if teens had anonymously posted something mean about themselves online in their lifetime and if they had anonymously cyberbullied themselves online in their lifetime.

Results of the study, published in the Journal of School Violence, reveal that a meaningful proportion of U.S. youth has been involved in digital self-harm. Between 2019 and 2021, approximately 9 to 12% of 13 to 17-year-olds in the U.S. engaged in digital self-harm, a more than 88% increase since 2016.

“Digital self-harm has been linked with major issues such as bullying, depression, eating disorders, physical harm, sleep disturbances and even suicidal tendencies,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., co-author, a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU’s College of Social Work and Criminal Justice, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, and a faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University.

“With increasing global attention from youth-serving professionals on this phenomenon, it’s clear that digital self-harm is a significant public health issue that warrants further research to identify solutions that can serve as protective factors to forestall its incidence as well as its impact.”

Source: MedicalXpress

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[reposted by] Jim Liebelt

Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for HomeWord. Jim has 40 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, having served over the years as a pastor, author, consultant, mentor, trainer, college instructor, and speaker. Jim’s HomeWord culture blog also appears on and Jim and his wife Jenny live in Quincy, MA.

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