Big news this week revealed the results of a study recently published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Concerned parents everywhere learned that not only are there thousands of videos on YouTube depicting youths engaged in self-injury and self-mutilation, but also that there are very few restrictions on who can access any one of these graphic videos. The study analyzed the 100 most viewed videos, many of which have been viewed over 2.3 million times with overall favorable or positive ratings. Not only is finding these videos as easy as typing in “self-injury” or “self-harm,” only 42% gave any warning about the disturbing content.
While some videos have an educational message, the majority glamorize self-injury with haunting music and rich imagery. After the report’s publication, ABC interviewed a teen who had a past of self-harm (see video below). The teen said that no matter how well-intentioned any of the videos might be, any images or footage of cutting or doing some other kind of self-harm could be a trigger for someone who has considered this before.
Of course there are always risks that your own child could be putting images or information online that could potentially damage their online reputation. But the content they encounter on the Internet could be even more damaging – both physically and emotionally. While the study found that some of the videos aimed to overcome the issue, these were still easily accessible videos that any child could be exposed to. And there will always be risky and disturbing content online so it’s important to talk to your kids about how they use the Internet, and warn them of certain things they might come across.
What kind of online content do you fear your kids will be exposed to?