Does The Internet Cause Psychological Harm To Teens?

from the sounds-familiar dept

It’s been about five years since the famous Carnegie Mellon study suggesting that the internet made people depressed. That study got a ridiculous amount of publicity, and its findings were quickly picked apart and discredited. Of course, that won’t stop psychologists from coming up with all sorts of ways to prove that the internet is “bad”. The latest, is a study out of Australia saying that the internet causes psychological harm to teens. The basis for this conclusion? That many teens are more comfortable chatting online than in person. So, because these teens actually find a social space where they’re comfortable communicating (rather than bottling everything up inside) we’re supposed to conclude that it’s had a bad psychological effect on them. The inherent assumption in the conclusion is that communicating online is bad, while communicating in person is good. It never seems to occur to the psychologist doing the study that by being able to communicate comfortably online, the teen may be able to build up self-confidence in their own opinions and ability to express themselves, which can translate into the real world as well.

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Comments on “Does The Internet Cause Psychological Harm To Teens?”

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dorpus says:

Cuts both ways

The internet can just as well serve as a medium for vicious criticism that would not likely occur in real life. People can make fun of a teen’s birth defect or whatever online, which they are unlikely to do in real life. Also, the net can exacerbate the negative attention-getting behavior of teens online; in the wake of the Columbine shooting, every chat room on the net seemed to be filled with teens who called themselves “Columbine students”. A few years before that, some 15-year-old German girl in a wheelchair pulled a publicity stunt by carving a swastika on her forehead and claiming skinheads did it.

Amy says:

Re: Destructive sites

How dare you put up
That is NOT a destructive website.
I am a self inflictor and I came across and have stopped cutting.
Based on the support I have received from that site.
I am extremely outraged that you haven’t even looked into this and seen how many people are being helped. Have you actually been onto the Message Boards?! Have you read any of the site?!
I doubt you have.
Because if you had you would’ve realised that the creator of this site is trying to help people. Not urge them to hurt themselves.
We should be commending her. Not condemning her!

Skip says:

Re: Re: Destructive sites

I am a member of the same group as Amy and I back and agree with every word she has said, the message board has helped me more than once and sites don’t make people hurt themselves shit comments and everyday life does….how can it be that you can say it’s telling people to hurt them selfs if they are going to do it whether on a computer or not?

Robyn says:

Re: Re: Re: Destructive sites

I’m another member of I’m no longer a cutter, and I joined the board on around the 11-month-mark of my quitting cutting. That website, that message board, the people on the board have kept me from relapsing so many times. They have helped me keep my sanity through the madness called my life. The internet did not make me depressed, my life did. Other cutters, other depressed people don’t add to my depression..they remind me that I’m not the only one going through it, and if I’m not the only one, then that means that it can get better. People on the internet (of course along with my real-life friends) have saved me from myself more times than I can count. is in no way a harming site. Of course, this is matter of opinion. And my opinion is that anyone who thinks that Gabs and her site are harming’re opinion is wrong.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Destructive sites

So let’s see, a site that is full of imagery of people who have committed suicide or hurt themselves is “helpful”. Right. From your response, I can see how teens can defend these thinly disguised pro-sociopathic sites. Pop stars have taken advantage of this aspect of teens for many years.

Mike, doesn’t want to his site turned into a teen flame fest, though I hardly think he is a Gabrielle fan.

E says:

Re: Destructive sites

Where’s your proof that the self-injury site is at all destructive?

If maybe you gave me some statistics or even a couple of examples of teenagers who cut themselves SPECIFICALLY because of that site then you would have a valid reason to include it in your list.
Otherwise you look like an ass.

dorpus says:

Re: Re: Destructive sites

Well, it’s kind of hard to dig up graves and make dead teens talk, if you were wanting the testimony of those who already visited the site and killed themselves.

But when you cut that portal to the other dimension on your wrist, maybe you will meet them and they can tell you all about it.

dorpus says:

Sample forum article from

“…ahhhhhhh. blood. such beautiful crimson life coming out of me. carved masterpeices. my legs. such destruction, yet such wonderful relief. oh to be able to feel… i’ve gone numb again. though i was hurting so much, it was nice to at least feel something. now i’ve gone back inside myself to hide again….”

[Followed by squishy replies of supportive comments]

So, teens who hurt themselves get all this affection and loving attention from fellow slashers, in the name of “help”. I see how this works.

Ash says:

Re: Sample forum article from

hey jerk back off the self-injury thing ok? Obviously you’ve never been in those shoes. I have it its harder to quit than anybody else could imagine. It’s worse than drugs and we use those so called destructive sites as an outlet to quit cutting. BACK OFF since you’ve never been there…

westpac says:

same old same old

This is exactly why I gave up posting on internet boards last year. Too many teenagers with too much free time who want to piss people off just to amuse themselves. Since Techdirt articles usually only garner a few comments it’s nowhere near as bad as most sites (including /.) that solicit comments, but all it takes is one infant peeing in the pool to spoil the party for everyone else. I don’t know if any of you ever saw Netslaves, but it went from a good place to hear horror stories to the biggest left-wing vs right-wing pig-fight since FC abandoned all pretense of moderation. I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen here.

AMetamorphosis says:

Re: Re: Re: same old same old

Just because some of you don’t agree with Dorpus it doesn’t make his points less valid.

Mike, you obviously ” fuel the fire ” with the post you made in this forum so you’re as much to blame for the down slide of this conversation as anyone else.

Christ, I forget what the topic was even about now …

Luzia. says:

Re: Re: Re:2 same old same old

Ok, is not a bad place, not at all. I have been there and it hashelped me, yes, and i have met wonderful ppl from there that has helped me a lot when i needed.
But lets face it, it`s only internet and a forum on internet is not gonna make ppl stop from cutting or is not gonna make ppl start cutting themselves. It can be triggering yes, but that`s up to the person that goes there. It does not say in anyplace: Hey teens, go cut yourselves.
I think it`s only a pl?ace where teens can go and say anything they want without being looked as freaks by the others. Cuz there is ppl who understands them there.
So i support I think it`s an ok place for ppl who needs help. Cuz it has helped me.

Silver says:

No Subject Given

ive just been reading over this and i cant believe what some of you are saying…. the first being : –
“People can make fun of a teen’s birth defect or whatever online, which they are unlikely to do in real life.”
the internet definately breaks down barriers, people would say things easier, but the point is, online most people wouldnt know the person HAD a birth defect, and real life? what kinda world do you live in? i think you got it the wrong way round… people are definately more likely to make fun of the birth defect in person.
the next comment is about the site – and especially the forum, safe haven…
yea you get sum people on there who are difficult, who promote si… saying things strangely similar to “when you cut that portal to the other dimension on your wrist” hmmm!!!!!
neway these people get banned pretty sharpish!
its also full of people! NORMAL people… you cant expect people to be perfect just because there on an internet site… its real…
but sh is a safe place, its a place built by its members, and especially by gabs…
“So, teens who hurt themselves get all this affection and loving attention from fellow slashers, in the name of “help”. I see how this works.” i dont REALLY think you do!! so nice of you to assume you know it all though. people, not just teens! you hurt themselves, get support and make friends which other people who understand them… other people who understand how they feel… for sum people they still cant deal with it all, the site doesnt keep them alive, but who said it was meant to be a miracle cure?
ever felt lonely? because every1 around you is scared that they’ll see a cut or a scar or that youll do sumthg that nobody wants you to do? if you havent felt like that then i dont think you can really totally ever judge on this.
thats just what i have to say…

dorpus says:

Gabrielle responds

In her words,


“Oops. Wasn’t trying to get anyone upset. :/

I myself was amused. This site may not be anti-self-injury but it’s certainly not in the same category as the pro-anorexia sites. Maybe if I added some tips on how to cut effectively…

Gabrielle “

So, despite the claims of her followers that the site is supposed to “help” people, even Gabrielle admits the site is “not anti-self-injury”.

tessa says:

Re: You moron

Just because a site isn’t anti-self-injury does NOT mean that it doesn’t help people. Maybe you should read the rules Gabrielle has set up for the board, which includes no tips allowed on the board, no telling people how to cut deeper, no sharing of what brand of razors to buy, etc. We don’t JUDGE and CONDEMN people who self injure, which is all ‘not anti-self-injury’ means. Gabrielle’s site is NOT pro-SI therefore it is bullshit to categorize it with pro-ana sites like Starving For Perfection that actually DO give tips.

Amy says:

Re: Re: You moron


Where are the graphic pictures of people cutting themselves?
I’ve been a member for quite a few months and I’ve never seen it.

And Dorphus you went and looked for a thread.
Seems you are quite interested in the site and know how to get around… Do you go there more often than you would like to admit?

Angel says:

No one should encourage cutting or hurting one’s self. If you have a problem YOU need to seek help and maybe your friend didn’t talk to you because you’re hard headed.Only God can take away your pain in a way that doesn’t hurt. I once hurt myself but I finally realized it’s a waste of time because I was still not happy with who I was.

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