This month it feels very timely to be reflecting upon media use and the potential impact on both ourselves and our young people today. Childline says children now face a “constant onslaught from cyber-bullying and social media.” The charity says social media is leading to youngsters “comparing themselves to others, and feeling inferior, ugly, and unpopular as a result.” The difference for children in our modern society, is that there is no escape after 3.30pm… Bullying continues on, whatever the device.
For many parents out there, there is a need for more equipping in technology – not only to keep abreast of new developments but also to be empowered to step up. Maintaining an open relationship that enables our children to share their online world, is increasingly as important as knowing about their face-to-face experiences. For many more vulnerable young people (especially those who are socially anxious) , their online world, may feel more real and dominant than day to day life. We hear from our expert Zoe Dale, as she shares her thoughts and experiences:

“The risk of the online world to us all, is that we are all likely to be more dis-inhibited online, than in face-to-face interactions, whether it be posting pictures or sharing our feelings. We can impulsively share our thoughts or intimate pictures in seconds. Once posted – you can’t draw it back. For young people it can be especially difficult to think about the consequences.
Adolescence is a time of great transition, where significant emotional and brain development takes place. Therefore young people are more vulnerable to acting impulsively and feeling deeply upset by the actions of others…
​Drawing on my own clinical practice, the point where a young person posts damming information about themselves or ‘trolls themselves’, is in itself a potentially profound form of self harm. Such forms of public self shaming and humiliation, needs to be thought about as a potentially significant risk factor. For some vulnerable young people with emerging mental health needs, it will be a potentially small step to acting on these feelings.”

If you work with young people and are concerned about self harm and media use, join us in London on Thursday 21st March where Zoe will be leading our specialist study day.
See more here.

So… what about you?  Do feel like you might be addicted to social media?  If you’ve got some spare time and fancy listening to a quick podcast, check out this ‘Beyond Today’ episode from BBC Radio 4 on ‘How bad is social media for my mental health?
Some interesting ideas for consideration and well worth a listen!