Report: Instagram giving teens anxiety and depression [NBC15, by Morgan Wolfe, 30/10/2017]

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) — Instagram is the fastest growing social media app where more than 800 million users are swiping, filtering, and hashtaging their lives. A recent report cautions it’s mental health affects are anything but likeable.

“I only wanna post good pictures that I think people will like,” Grace Ringsmuth said.

Ringsmuth is a freshman at Verona High School. She says Snap Chat is her favorite social media app because it is “easy”. When it comes to Instagram, Ringsmuth says she feels a lot of pressure to post perfect pictures.

She’s not alone.

A report by the Young Health Movement in the United Kingdom revealed Instagram is the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing. YHM surveyed 1,500 teens and asked them to rank social media sites as most positive to most negative when it comes to their mental health. Instagram ranked most negative.

“I have deleted Instagram’s that haven’t gotten a lot of likes before,” Ringsmuth confessed.

Ringsmuth opened up about her feelings on Instagram saying the app gives her anxiety about what she posts, but more so, how it’s perceived from others.

“I am not going to post a picture I think I look bad in,” Ringsmuth said.

The report says 91 percent of 16-24 year old use the interest for social networking. Rates of anxiety and depression in young people have risen 70 percent in the past 25 years. YHM says the study showed social media is keeping people up at night causing a lack of sleep and creating more feelings of worry/ stress.

“Getting a lot of increases in anxiety and depression in young people particularly if they use it more than two hours a day,” Dr. Robert Peyton, child psychologist said.

Dr. Peyton is a child psychologist who works at SSM Health Dean Medical Group clinic in Sun Prairie and says he has witnessed how social media in general is creating a lot of problems for teens. He says Facebook is the worst for cyber-bullying, and Instagram is creating a lot of “compare and despair.”

“It’s not just this person on tv or someone in a fashion magazine. It’s the people that you see in the hallway,” Dr. Peyton said.

Dr. Peyton says the problem isn’t just affecting teens.

“It would be disingenuous to say that it doesn’t make you think twice about yourself or life,” Jamie Ringsmuth, Grace’s mom said.

She says she uses Instagram as a way to get new recipes, workout, and home projects, but it makes her question herself if she is doing enough in her life or raising her kids right.

“You just need to pay attention,” Jamie Ringsmuth said.

Jamie says she has confidence that Grace will come to her if she feels her anxiety or depression increases over social media. She wants her to interact with her friends and not feel isolated if she didn’t have social media.

On the positive side, Grace and Jamie think social media, in particular Instagram, promotes positivity. They say they will keep Instagram for the social interaction and positive comments they get from others.

“A lot of social media is really body positive right now. Like you are beautiful and you do you. So, I think for the most part, it is not too bad,” Grace said.

(Copyright 2017: WMTV)

The rise of ‘digital self-harm’: Worrying trend sees children [Mailonline, by Harry Pettit, 31/10/2017]

  • New study has shown that ‘digital self-harm’ is widespread among US teenagers 
  • Like its physical counterpart, it is often a cry for a response from others
  • The researchers say there may be a link between digital self-harm and suicidal thoughts and attempts

A worrying new online trend sees children as young as 12 posting nasty anonymous messages about themselves.

A new study has shown that one in 20 US teenagers have ‘digitally self-harmed’, and like its physical counterpart, the behaviour is often a cry for help.

The researchers say there may be a link between digital self-harm and suicidal thoughts and/or attempts.

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A worrying new online trend sees children as young as 12 posting nasty anonymous messages about themselves. A new study has shown that 'digital self-harm' is widespread among US teenagers, and like its physical counterpart is often a cry for help (stock image)

A worrying new online trend sees children as young as 12 posting nasty anonymous messages about themselves. A new study has shown that ‘digital self-harm’ is widespread among US teenagers, and like its physical counterpart is often a cry for help (stock image)


The researchers quizzed nearly 6,000 US middle and high school students between 12 and 17 years old.

–  One in 20 had anonymously abused themselves online

–  Young men were more likely to have digitally self-harmed, with 7.1 per cent reporting they had done it compared to 5.3 per cent of girls

– Those who identified as ‘non-heterosexual were three times more likely to bully themselves online

– Victims of cyberbullying were 12 times more likely to have also cyberbullied themselves

– Teenagers with a history of drug use, depression symptoms, or self-harm behaviours offline were all far more likely to have digitally self-harmed

‘Like physical self-harm and depression, we need to closely look at the possibility that digital self-harm behaviours might precede suicide attempts,’ study lead author Professor Sameer Hinduja, from Florida Atlantic University, said.

‘We need to refrain from demonising those who bully, and come to terms with the troubling fact that in certain cases the aggressor and target may be one and the same.’

The Florida researchers quizzed nearly 6,000 middle and high school students between 12 and 17 years old for their study.

Young men were significantly more likely to have digitally self-harmed, with 7.1 per cent reporting they had done it compared to 5.3 per cent of young women.

Of those who had self-cyber bullied, around half said they had only done it once, while a third said they had done it a few times.

Bully 4u at Clongowes Wood College

Last Wednesday, 13th April, the Parents’ Association arranged a talk for parents by a company called Bully4You represented on the night by Kevin Deering and Jim Harding. Bully4You is a not-for-profit organisation helping schools, parents and teenagers to understand the deep effects of bullying and cyber bullying in particular. With the advent of modern communications and technology, people all over the world are engaging with society like never before.

Today’s generation of teenagers are connecting in new ways and have a new audience thanks to the ease of access to social networking websites, video and photograph sharing sites. While email, instant messaging and sites such as Snapchat and Facebook etc are allowing young people to communicate in a free and easy unsupervised manner, the anonymous, instant and far reaching technological possibilities have also brought a new dimension to bullying. When they are online, young people can hide behind the anonymity that the internet offers.

The very informative talk given by Jim and Kevin helped us as parents to understand, what is probably just the tip of the iceberg, what exactly is involved in the area and – most importantly – their message to communicate with our children as best we can to protect them from the negative effects of such cyber bullying.

Many prefects as well as parents and the Headmaster, Mr Chris Lumb as well as School Counsellor, Ms Mary Maume and the Rector and Director of Ethos, Fr Michael Sheil SJ, attended this informative talk and I think all who attended were grateful for the information delivered in such an eloquent manner by the team from Bully4You.

Susanna Cawley, Parents’ Association Chairperson

TEENS STOP ASKING.FM; Suicides linked to massive drop in site usage. [The free Library, by Aoife Mullen]

THE number of teenagers using the controversial website has dropped dramatically, research has found.

A survey by the Irish anti-bullying service Bully4u showed that of the 40% of nine to 12-year-olds that had used the site, only 8% were still using it.

It also revealed that of the 45% of 13 and 14-year-olds and 55% of 15 to 17-year-olds who used it, only 10% of both groups still use it.

The website came in for huge criticism after the suicides of Erin and Shannon Gallagher were linked to vile bullying on the site.

Bully4u director Jim Harding said cyber-bullying on is one of the reasons for the decline.

He added: “The latest figures from the survey will be welcomed by parents the length and breadth of Ireland. The decline is largely down to the media campaign against this site following a number of tragic suicides which were linked to cyber-bullying.

“Schoolchildren cite bullying on ask. fm and parental pressure as the main reasons they were no longer frequenting the site.” Almost every teenager who took part in the survey has a Facebook profile and half have a Twitter profile.

Mr Harding said: “Facebook’s requirement to open an account is that you must be 13 years or older.

“Our research indicates that 85% of children aged nine to 12 have a Facebook account and 33% of these were helped by their parents to open it.”

He is also concerned about the number of teenagers using the Snapchat app which allows users to send pictures before deleting the picture a number of seconds after it’s opened.

He said: “Snapchat is being used to cyber bully and for sexting.

“In addition, 30% of secondary schoolchildren visit Chat Roulette sites like Omegle that pair random people from around the world together for webcam-based conversations. These sites would be of great concern.”

St. Mary’s stands up to cyberbullying [vsopublicationsltd, 08/11/2012]

The tragic recent deaths of two teenage girls in Donegal and Leitrim have spurred one Mallow secondary school to address the issue of cyberbullying head on. St. Mary’s Secondary School has since the start of the school year been imple-menting a number of initiatives to raise aware-ness of cyberbullying among its student population. These have involved simultaneous classes, talks and a poster campaign. Cyberbullying is a term used to describe the misuse of information and communications technology (ICT) to harass, pester and embarrass others. Cyberbullies use email, mobile phones, blogs and social net-working sites such as Facebook, Bebo and to intimidate victims. It can be a particularly difficult problem to address as some online forums may allow bullies to act ann-onymously, impulsively and without constraints on time or place. As such, it is a problem that is confined to neither school nor home.

With this in mind, St. Mary’s has launched an awareness campaign among its students to empower, through education, the use of digital technology in a responsible manner. In September, all four first year SPHE classes were given a simultaneous lesson on bullying wherein the various types of bullying were discussed as well as the steps to follow if a student is being bullied or if a student knows of another who is being bullied. The school has put in place a structure of communication involving management, year heads, class teachers, fifth year mentors and the school’s two guidance counsellors. The effect of this is that there is a wide network of responsible adults and senior students who are always available to talk to a student who is being bullied or who knows of a student being bullied.

A recent visit to the school from the Bully4u service involved a talk given to all second year students. They gave the girls a one and a half hour workshop on cyberbullying. The workshop involved role-play exercises and audio-visual presentations. The Bully4u speakers, Jim Harding and Kevin Deering, tackled the unique features and impact of cyberbullying. They discussed in detail how students should respond to cyberbullying. The girls were asked to identify words to describe how a victim of cyberbullying might feel. Words such as lonely, sad and scared were printed onto a t-shirt. The t-shirt is currently on display in the canteen as part of the awareness campaign. Each student was given a certificate of participation at the end of the workshop.

On Thursday 15th November the school will hold its annual open night. The Principal’s address starts at 7.45pm in the school’s Aemilian Theatre. Parents of current sixth class pupils will, on the night, be given an information poster regarding the safe use of Facebook. The poster will give advice on how parents, teachers, friends and victims should app-roach cyberbullying on Facebook. The poster will also be on display in a number of high profile points throughout the school. Finally, for interested parents, St. Mary’s has published it’s ‘Anti-Bullying Policy’ on the school website.

Cracking the cyberbullies’ secret language could save lives [mathildefrot, 14/07/2015]

TO PARENTS they may seem like a bewildering jumble of letters – but these coded messages could provide the first clue that their children are self-harming, being bullied or groomed online, or even driven to suicide.

Teenagers and predators alike are using their own language and collection of acronyms on Facebook and other social networking sites to conceal the true nature of their conversations.

Among the danger signs are the acronyms ‘Dirl’, meaning ‘die in real life’, which is used by cyberbullies to urge victims to kill themselves, and ‘gnoc’ – ‘getting naked on camera’ – used to lure young people into getting undressed. Other terms may at first seem innocuous. ‘Bio-oil’ is a skincare product, but on chat forums such as it can indicate self-harm scars, while the hashtag #cutfor is used on Twitter to promote selfharming in a twisted attempt to honour a celebrity.

Research body CNGL – Centre for Global Intelligent Content – has been working on software that can fight cyberbullying by identifying such dangerous phrases.

The team is currently working on a programme that could be used with social media sites and forums and could pinpoint instances of cyberbullying or abusive language in text messages. It could then filter out the phrases – or report them to teachers, parents or website moderators.

DCU researcher Johannes Lev-eling said that the software could be used in classrooms to alert teachers or counsellors to potential bullying or self-harm.

If a student searches for the term ‘clavicle’, for example, a screenshot would be sent to the teacher with an explanation that the word is often used by anorexics seeking pictures of girls with protruding collarbones.

CNGL intends to showcase the technology at the National Cyberbullying Conference in Dublin this  September.

Jim Harding, founder of charity Bully4U, said the victims of cyberbullying are getting younger all the time.

When Bully4U started providing workshops in schools, victims were ‘no younger than 11’, he said.

‘Now, children as young as six years of age may be affected by cyberbullying,’ Mr Harding explained, ‘because children are often given smartphones for communion or Christmas and so have unmonitored access to the internet.’

Mr Harding also issued a warning to parents about the app Viber, which provides users with free calls and text messages via any Wi-Fi network. The app connects people into groups and allows users to share their location to any of their contacts, resulting in a host of privacy and abuse-related concerns.

He claimed parents were often in the dark: ‘Bully4U’s work in schools is effective as parents just don’t know that their children are being bullied because victims very rarely come forward,’ he said.

In 2012 cyberbullying was linked to the suicides of Erin Gallagher, 13, and her sister Shannon, 15, from Ballybofey, Co. Donegal and Ciara Pugsley, 15, from Co. Leitrim.

Expert calls for an EU law to crack down on bullies

NEW laws are needed at European level to combat cyberbullying, child law expert Dr Geoffrey Shannon has said. At the first European Union antibullying conference last month hosted as part of the Greek Presidency,

Dr Shannon said international research indicated that intervention programmes could reduce bullying and cyber bullying in schools by 20%. ‘What is required is an international super-national framework for the protection of children,’ he said.

There has been much interest in Dr Shannon’s recommendations to make cyber-bullying a crime. It was recently raised in a select committee in the House of Commons in Westminster.

From IHML (I hate my life) to Pos (parent over shoulder) … your guide to the online teen lexicon

Ana buddy/Mia buddy: Anorexic or bulimia buddy, who encourages the eating disorder.

Bbp: Banned by parents. Bio-oil: Stretch mark oil often used by those who are self-harming to minimise appearance of scars. Clavicle: Those suffering from eating disorders might use this to search for pictures of people who are very thin, as a prominent clavicle can be seen as a measure of thinness. #cutfor: Hashtag used to promote self-harm in the name of particular celebrities. #cutforJustinBiebertrended in 2013.

Dirl: Die in real life, a phrase which may be used to upset someone or encourage them to commit suicide.

Gcad: Get cancer and die. Gnoc: Get naked on camera, used to groom young people or as a form of ‘sexting’.

Gokid: Got observers, keep it decent.

Foad: F*** off and die. Fugly: F****** ugly. Hduw2bb: Hello do you want to be buddies? Possible interaction with a stranger.

Idttu: I don’t talk to you. Used to ostracise another person online. Ih8p: I hate parents.

IHML: I hate my life. Iw2mu: I want to meet you. Suggests possible meet-up with a stranger.

Jlma: Just leave me alone. Kpc: Keeping parents clueless. Lggd: Let’s go get drunk. Miw: Mum is watching.

Mmas: Meet me after school. Mos: Mum over shoulder. Np4np: Naked pic for naked pic. Offering to swap pornographic pictures with others online. Oreo: Racist slang for a black person who is ‘trying to be white’.

Our x: Our secret, used by abusers to encourage victims not to speak out.

Pcrs: Parents can read slang. P3n15/V4gIn4: Code for penis or vagina.

Pos/Pob: Parent over shoulder or parent over back.

Taw: Teachers are watching. Water loading: Technique used by those with eating disorders to increase body weight.

Code hides true nature of online conversations

‘Children as young as six may be affected’

Controversial site sees major drop in users after cyberbullying concerns [Breakingnews, 08/11/2013]

There has been a massive drop in the number of Irish teens using the controversial web site

It made headlines last year after being linked to the high-profile deaths of Erin Gallagherand Ciara Pugsley.

The survey by the Irish anti-bullying service showed that of the 40% of nine to 12-year-olds that had used the site, only 8% were still using it.

The site has faced huge criticism over cyberbullying concerns.

Jim Harding, from which carried out the survey, says it has caused them to lose out on Irish users.

Mr Harding said: “I think the high-profile tragedies galvanised the media and the media really took this as a champion casuse and created a lot of awareness.

“That awareness trickled down to schoolchildren, but also schoolchildren are being influenced by their parents.”

The Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald has welcomed the news.

Cyberbullying ‘at risk ofspiralling out of control’with 33pc rise in one year [Herald, by Sarah Slater, 30/08/2017]

A radical overhaul of legislation around cyberbullying is needed to prevent it spiralling out of control, a leading law expert has claimed.

A recent survey by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals found 16pc of Irish students have experienced bullying online – which is a 33pc increase on last year.

Researchers from the Anti- Bullying Centre at DCU have found that another 8pc admitted to cyberbullying others.

The study was carried out on a group of 2,700 students aged from between 12 and 16 in eight post primary schools late last year.

A further 39pc of girls and 30pc of boys reported that they had witnessed someone being cyberbullied.


Incidence of school bullying was brought into focus when Irish student Phoebe Prince took her own life in America after bullying by other students.

David Fagan, a health and safety law expert believes it will take a “horrific case” of bulling or cyberbullying before the Irish State will implement new legislation around the issue.

“There is no specific legislation here which deals with this issue. Bullying and cyberbullying need to be defined, and penalties around such need to urgently be introduced here,” Mr Fagan said.

“There is all sorts of legislation here, such as the Children’s Act and Education Act, but the State doesn’t recognise bullying as a concept. Here, you have to bring a personal injury case against someone which doesn’t specify bullying.

“Even schools and teachers don’t seem to realise how they could not be covered by appropriate legislation when it comes to dealing with this issue.

“We are way behind other countries when it comes to this worrying issue. There was one case here which was brought under the Post Office Amendment Act of 1951 around one site and the use of a telephone.


“But that legislation is so old. It is nuts that we are using archaic law. The law around this issue is based in the Stone Age and has not kept apace.”

Mr Fagan was speaking ahead of the first national conference on cyberbullying, which is being held at Dublin Castle on Monday by the Bully4U organisation and the Anti-Bullying Centre at Dublin City University.

The conference aims at educating and empowering parents, teachers and health professionals in providing support to victims and developing cyberbullying prevention and intervention strategies.

There will be international speakers attending, including spokespeople from Facebook, Twitter and ASK.FM.

Jim Harding, the founder of Bully4U which visits schools nationwide to provide training on the issue to schools, added: “Identifying threats and trends around cyberbullying is so important.

“We need to equip professionals at the coalface to ‘understand and manage this cyberbullying epidemic in our schools, clubs and digital playgrounds.”

National cyberbullying conference takes place at DCU [Newstalk, by Jack Quann, 01/11/2014]

A conference aimed at addressing cyberbullying will see school principals call for increased funding and training to tackle the growing problem.

The national cyberbullying conference will take place in Dublin City University (DCU) today, and comes as recent surveys show increases in the number of victims and in those involved.

The event is being organised by the anti-bullying centre in DCU and Bully4U.

It and will be attended by a number of international experts including contributors from Facebook and

A recent survey by the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals found 16% of Irish students have experienced bullying online – that is a 33% increase on 2013.

The conference aims to educate and empower parents, teachers and and health professionals in providing support to victims and developing cyberbullying prevention and intervention.

The conference will be chaired by TD Mary Mitchell-O’Connor, and will be officially opened by Seán Kelly, MEP for the digital agenda.

Jim Harding is from Bully4U and says parents are becoming more aware of the pitfalls out there.

Principals: Schools need more money to fight cyber-bullying [Irishnews, 02/11/2014]

IRISH parents are becoming more social-media savvy to protect their children but schools need extra funding and training to tackle cyber-bullying, principals have said.

A national conference on cyber-bullying at Dublin City University yesterday heard a call for extra resources to combat the problem in schools across Ireland.

The event, co-organised by the university’s Anti-Bullying Centre and the support group Bully4U, was attended by teachers’ representatives, health professionals as well as contributors from Face-book, Twitter and

Clive Byrne of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) said a classroom module on the issues involved should be introduced in schools to equip children with the tools to deal with cyber-bullying.

He also suggested the Department of Education should inject extra cash into providing training for parents.

Bully4U founder Jim Harding said parents are becoming increasingly confident dealing with modern technologies.

However, a recent NAPD survey found that cases of cyber-bullying had soared by a third in the past year, while 14 per cent of students taking part in a Republic-wide study confirmed that they had been targeted.

Last year the south’s special rapporteur on child protection, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, warned that social media had provided a new “forum” for bullies and called for new legislation to stamp out the problem.

His comments came after the suicides in 2012 of a number of young girls who had been victims of cyber bullying, including 13-year-old Erin Gallagher from Ballybofey in Co Donegal and her sister Shannon, aged 15.