Truth Frequency Radio
Nov 02, 2013

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Oct. 30, 2013 — Oxford researchers have found internet forums provide a support network for socially isolated young people. However, they also conclude that the internet is linked to an increased risk of suicide and self-harm among vulnerable adolescents.

Following what is thought to be the biggest review of existing studies into internet use and young people, the researchers suggest that, in future, clinical assessments of such young people should include questions about the online content they have viewed.

The global review, published in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that young people at risk of self-harm or suicide were often online for longer periods than other teenagers. The Oxford team analysed a total of 14 studies and found contradictory findings on whether the internet exerted a positive or negative influence. Some studies found that internet forums supported and connect socially isolated people, helping them to cope. But other studies concluded that young people who went online to find out more about self-harm and suicide were exposed to violent imagery and acted out what they had seen online. The review finds that internet use is linked with more violent methods of self-harm.

Moderate or severe addiction to the internet is also connected to an increased risk of self-harm, as well as increased levels of depression or thoughts about suicide, according to the Oxford review. The review also says there is a strong link between young people using internet forums and an increased risk of suicide — a connection not found in relation to other social network sites. In one of the studies reviewed, well over half (59%) of young people interviewed said they had researched suicide online. Meanwhile, of 15 teenagers who had carried out particularly violent acts of self-harm, 80% said they had gone online to research self-harm beforehand. Of 34 who self-harmed by cutting, 73% said they had researched it online.

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