PAINS AND GAINS IN CYBERSPACE FOR DEVELOPING BRAINS: DELIBERATE SELF-HARM, PROBLEMATIC INTERNET USE AND DIGITAL COMPETENCE IN YOUNG PEOPLE

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

Background: Children and adolescents are at increased risk when they navigate unregulated online content and social media. The current cohort represents the first generation exposed to these technologies without prior data on the impact on developing brains. The recent literature highlights the elevated risks of deliberate selfharm (DSH) behaviours by children and adolescents as influenced by problematic Internet use (PIU) and contagion effects. However, proactive education on the explicit principles of cyber-safety may mitigate risks. This
symposium addresses the pressing issues of risks and prevention in cyberspace relevant to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Objectives: To review problematic and beneficial use of Internet activities including social media use by children and adolescents.
Methods: Review of literature and survey data which evaluate problematic use as well as benefits and early intervention fostering children’s ‘savvy competence in
cyberspace’.
Findings: The first presentation highlights the roles played by online contagion in DSH among adolescents. The second presentation reports different patterns of social media and Internet misuse by young people who self-harm. The novel concept of ‘problematic Internet contagion’ (PIC) is explored. The third presentation argues that PIU can be prevented by teaching children media/digital literacy skills and impulse control skills – as captured by ‘digital nutrition’ – analogous to education on nutrition and healthy diets. The fourth presentation provides a critical appraisal on the positive aspects of information and communications technology (ICT) and games in improving health outcomes and mental well-being.
Conclusions: Digital technology, Internet and social media use is the contemporary social norm, especially for the digital native generation. The use of ICT and social media can yield both benefits and risks, and effective education on digital competence can maximise ‘gain’ and mitigate ‘pain’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages62
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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