Digital Self-Harm, Causes and Interventions: Annotated Bibliography

Research question: How social media contributes to digital self-harm/self-harm among adolescents, and which measures can be taken to address the rising issue?

Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2017). Digital self-harm among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 61(6), 761-766.

In their article, Patchin and Hinduja (2017) explore digital aggression directed towards adolescents by themselves and examine its extent among American middle and high school-aged students. The authors conducted a survey involving 5,593 participants aged 12-17. The online survey examined students’ experience with cyberbullying, bullying, and self-harm. It also directly asked for qualitative responses regarding the motivation to engage in such behavior. The article is helpful to the research topic, as Patchin and Hinduja (2017) exhibit the current scope of the problem and provide self-reported reasons behind self-cyberbullying among American youth.

The study’s main limitations are that its sample includes only those who expressed interest in participating, the response rate was low, and data were collected at one point in time. Logistic regression analysis revealed that about 6% of adolescents had cyberbullied themselves, while 13.2% self-reported doing it multiple times. Males were found to post self-harmful content more often, while race and age were not significant mediators. Among the reasons behind it, students suggested attention-seeking, self-hate, depressive conditions, and making fun of themselves.

Pater, J., & Mynatt, E. (2017). Defining digital self-harm. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (pp. 1501-1513). Association for Computing Machinery.

In their article, Pater and Mynatt (2017) define digital self-harm and outline a research agenda for further investigating correlations between online and offline destructive behaviors. This article presents concepts of direct and indirect self-harm and concentrates on discussing self-cyberbullying, providing related examples. For instance, it reveals the adverse impact of Eating Disorder (ED) communities on youth. Such platforms reinforce mean standards and inspire participants to engage in ED by sharing experiences and media (images, videos, messages, and instructions). It also points at cutting communities that make adolescents cut their bodies as a way to deal with mental health issues or express their body dissatisfaction.

The study also refers to Social Cognitive Theory and Cultivation Theory to explain how media and social platforms shape an individual’s perceptions. This article is of high importance for the research as it suggests solutions to the issue such as platform augmenting policy and design responsive to the dangerous behaviors online. This paper will form the conceptual basis of the research since it overarches all main elements.

Cliffe, B., Tingley, J., Greenhalgh, I., & Stallard, P. (2021). Mobile Health interventions for self-harm: scoping review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(4), 1-17.

Cliffe et al. (2021) review existing literature regarding digital health interventions that use mobile technologies to support and help those engaged in destructive behaviors. It reviews 36 papers on 34 direct and indirect mHealth apps and assesses their efficiency and broad applicability. This article is valuable for the research since it compares and summarizes current intervention solutions to mitigate the growing self-harm issues both among adults and adolescents.

Most trial studies reported positive outcomes making mHealth apps a promising tool to assist individuals engaged in self-harm and those showing symptoms of anxiety or depression. The use of most apps in treatment results in a reduction of self-harm frequency even without face-to-face support. Reviewed solutions predominantly call or text-based, having the potential to reach a broad audience. The study’s main limitation is that it does not conduct a quality assessment of the included papers. The findings show promising evidence for mHealth tools; however, it points to its limited availability at the moment.

Fraga, J. (2021). Digital self-harm: What to do when kids cyberbully themselves? The Washington Post. Web.

The article by Fraga (2021) addresses the reasons behind self-harm behaviors among kids and provides valuable advice to their parents. The author discusses the latest findings of digital self-harm researchers and adolescent psychologists, providing examples of self-cyberbullying and related motivations. For instance, it was found that social isolation and related measures intensified the nationwide self-harm issue, with 10% of adolescents posting mean content about them. The main reasons behind this conduct are psychological distress, loneliness, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and need for attention. The author also exhibits ways for parents to identify self-harm practices of their children, including monitoring their social accounts, honest and open communication, and use of cognitive empathy. What is more, Fraga (2021) reveals that possible interventions may include counseling, finding a new hobby for kids, gathering with friends, and paying more attention to their problems and concerns. This online article is helpful for the research since it provides a theoretical basis and suggests some valuable solutions.

References

Cliffe, B., Tingley, J., Greenhalgh, I., & Stallard, P. (2021). Mobile health interventions for self-harm: Scoping review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(4), 1-17. Web.

Fraga, J. (2021). Digital self-harm: What to do when kids cyberbully themselves? The Washington Post. Web.

Patchin, J. W., & Hinduja, S. (2017). Digital self-harm among adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 61(6), 761-766. Web.

Pater, J., & Mynatt, E. (2017). Defining digital self-harm. In Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (pp. 1501-1513). Association for Computing Machinery. Web.