Wai Chen, G Gooseens, A Cleator, S Dziurawiec

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Background: Deliberate self-harm (DSH)-related community websites (e.g. discussion boards, personally constructed websites) and social networking groups have dramatically increased, providing young people with a host
of online venues to seek information and social connections based on DSH. The patterns of DSH behaviours related to Online Social Media (OSM) use in children and adolescents are poorly understood.

Objectives: This study reviews and classifies the patterns of OSM uses relevant to DSH in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Methods: Thematic review of published literature and surveys conducted in Western Australia.

Findings: Thematic review of the literature on social media misuse and DSH reveals several subtypes of Internet misuse. These include the following: (1) photo/video sharing, (2) site sharing information on DSH and detection evasion methods, (3) DSH chatrooms and forum discussion (open groups versus closed groups), (4) chatrooms (often closed group) formed and used by ex and current patients of adolescent in-patient and out-patient facilities and (5) discussion groups with serious lethal risks (offering advice on lethal methods and inciting suicide). These patterns vary across geographical and cultural regions. Some DSH users report gaining a sense of understanding and support via chatroom forums and photo/video sharing and viewing – despite some at the ‘cost’ of escalating self-harm acts.

Conclusions: Different subtypes of social media misuse are identified, although it remains unknown whether these subtypes follow the pattern of a gateway/sentinel progression model – analogous to drug addiction. Furthermore, the novel concept of ‘problematic Internet contagion’ (PIC) – located in network connections contrasting with an impulse-control disorder located within a person as in problematic Internet use (PIU) – is proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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