Online Activities of Youth who Engage in Self-Harm Behaviors

 Following up last month's post on websites about self-harm, we explore what young people who engage in self-harm behavior do online, in our new infographic. Compared to youth who do not engage in self-harm, youth with self-harm behaviors use the Internet in different ways. This information may provide channels through which distressed youth can be reached. For full details, visit the infographic Online Activities of Youth who Engage in Self-Harm Behaviors. Learn more about our research at Center for Innovative Public Health Research. Find us on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. Acknowledgments: Thanks to Dr. Kimberly Mitchell and Emilie Chen for their contributions to this blog. … [Read more...]

Self-Harm Websites and Teens Who Visit Them

We can all agree the Internet brings us together. It improves our lives in tons of ways (think: social media, online shopping, access to health-improving information). At the same time, this large virtual space also accommodates niche communities that encourage unhealthy or harmful behavior. One example is the online communities that share self-harm experiences and, in some cases, encourage self-harm or suicide [1]. Self-harm behavior involves intentionally injuring or hurting oneself (e.g., cutting) [2]. Although self-harming behavior may indicate depression or serious mental health conditions that are associated with suicidal intentions, people do not always self-harm because they want to die by suicide [2]. It is important to understand that this behavior is not the same as a suicide … [Read more...]

Are Teens Going Online to Form Romantic Relationships?

The Internet has certainly changed the way that youth today socialize with one another, but has it also affected the way teenagers meet romantic partners (i.e., boyfriends, girlfriends)? Moreover, do lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth, who may have less access to available partners as compared to non-LGBTQ youth, use the Internet for finding romantic partners in different ways than non-LGBTQ youth? These questions are explored using data from our Growing up with Media study, in which we surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 5,000 youth, aged 13 to 18 years in 2010-2011. To see our findings, be sure to check out our new infographic: LGBTQ Teens and Online Relationships. For more reading, check out our Growing up with Media infographic on … [Read more...]

Online Social Support for LGBT Teens

From feeling accepted to having a sense of self-worth, social support is an important aspect of a person's well-being [1]. Thanks to social media technology, many youth can find social support and form beneficial friendships online. This is especially important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth, who can more easily find friends who are understanding online than in person. However, the benefits of online friendships are not without its limits: Negative experiences, such as harassment, can still occur online. In-person friendships continue to be an important factor for reducing the likelihood LGBT youth victimization. To learn more, check out our new infographic, illustrating national data about online experiences: Online Social Support for LGBT Teens(link is … [Read more...]

Talking Online Can Be Life Changing for Sexual Minority Guys

Online discussions about healthy sex help sexual minority guys find support. As we explored in a previous post, the Internet can be an important source of health information and social support for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) teens [1]. Our recent study builds on this finding. We conducted online focus groups (i.e., message board discussions) with gay, bisexual, and queer teen guys. While online message boards may seem like old news in the world of social networking, they can be a great way to bring people with similar interests together to have a private conversation. This opportunity to connect can be particularly important for people who may be isolated and not have people they can relate to in their face-to-face lives. For gay and bisexual teens, this can include having people … [Read more...]

Sexting among Teenagers: Details from a national study

Our new infographic illustrates findings on teen sexting behavior. Building on last week’s post, our Teen Health and Technology study finds that the vast majority of teens (93%) do not “sext”—the popular term for sharing sexually suggestive photos of oneself through web or mobile technology. Among the 7 percent of teens who reported sexting, teen sexters are more likely to be female and more likely to be older than teens who do not sext. These data suggest that sexting is not necessarily unhealthy behavior--instead, sexting may just be part of teen sexual development in today’s digital society. To learn more, check out this infographic: Sexting among Teens. Acknowledgments: Thank you to Emilie Chen for her contributions to this blog. … [Read more...]

How Many Teens Are Actually Sexting?

“Sexting” among teenagers has increasingly made news headlines, resulting in a lot of worried parents. Usually defined as sharing a sexual photo of oneself nude or nearly nude through mobile or Internet communication—sexting may actually be less common than most people think. In fact, national surveys suggest that only a small minority—between 3 to 7 percent—of teens are sexting [1, 2, 3]. “If that’s the case, then why does it seem like so many of my children’s friends have gotten caught up in it?” many parents ask me. Well, one reason may be because one salacious incident can easily seize the attention of all students in a school. For instance, even if only 5 percent of youth are sexting at your child’s high school, this translates to one in 20 students—almost one student in every class … [Read more...]

With mHealth, Mobile Technology Improves Our Health

Mobile health technology, also called mHealth, can affect behavioral change. Some love it. Some hate it. Either way, mobile communication devices seem inescapable in today’s digital society [1]. This can sometimes feel like a nuisance when millenials—and a few older folks too—seem permanently glued to their smartphone screens. Nonetheless, the ubiquity of cell phones has made it possible for people to access health information wherever they go, right in the palms of their hands [2]. These mobile health programs, sometimes abbreviated as mHealth, are relatively inexpensive to scale upwards and expand for larger audiences [1]. With 9 in 10 adults in the U.S. owning a cell phone [1], mobile health programs have the potential to help individuals through a wide range of issues [2], … [Read more...]

Two Things You Need to Know About Youth Violence

Youth crime rates are at their lowest in three decades. Every time we turn on the news, it seems like there's another awful case of young people engaging in some horrific violent act, such as a school shooting. It’s easy to get the sense that the world is more dangerous now than it’s ever been. Yet, data from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention show a very clear picture: Youth violence is decreasing. The rate of violent youth arrest rates has been on a very steady decline since the mid-1990s [1]. It is now at the lowest rate that we’ve seen in three decades [1]. Take for example: 1  In 2012, youth arrests for violent crime reached its lowest rate in 32 years. [2] The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) includes murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated … [Read more...]

Family Matters: Parental Rules for Internet Use

Infographic on household rules for Internet use In our recent post on the reality and misperceptions of online "predators," we discussed the importance of talking to kids about Internet safety. However, as an ever-evolving realm that many of us didn't grow up with, the Internet isn't always an easy subject matter to navigate. In our latest infographic, we've illustrated data from our "Growing up with Media" study, highlighting how many, how frequently, and some ways in which parents establish rules regarding their children's Internet rules in their households. Growing up with Media: Household Rules Find us on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. Acknowledgments: Thanks to Emilie Chen for her contributions to this blog. The GuwM Study was funded by a … [Read more...]