Increase in self-harm in young people linked to social media

14 June 2019, 15:59 | Updated: 14 June 2019, 16:12

Social Media

There's a link between social media and an increase in self-harm among young people - that's according to a West Yorkshire charity.

Battle Scars is a charity based in Leeds who help survivors of self-harm, offering workshops and support groups for all ages.

Jenny Groves, 47, founder and CEO said: "I started self-harming at 17, I'm 47 now and unfortunately I haven't been able to stop - which is one of the messages we are trying to get out to young people when we are doing work in schools.

"It's not something you can pick up, have a laugh with it and then just ditch it. Self-harm is really addictive and it has a nasty habit of being ingrained behaviour pretty quickly."

Concerns have been raised in response to a survey released by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, which revealed that almost half of British teenagers say they have been exposed to harmful content on social media -  but two-thirds did not report it.

Mrs Groves said: "In terms of graphic photographs I don't think that they should be allowed at all. They feed into this idea of competition. They make a lot of people feel inadequate, even with their self-harm. They think that their self-harm isn't good enough, let alone everything else they do in life."

Social media organisations are currently unregulated meaning inappropriate and potentially harmful content can be accessed by children online.

The charity says it has seen a rise in self-harm among young people and they think this is linked with social media: "Self-harm is a symptom of something and an indication that something is not quite right.

"The problem is that social media adds to this, especially with young people who use it all of the time. There is nowhere to hide anymore, they get bombarded from everywhere with images of perfection which are totally unachievable, nobody can become that sort of human being."

CIM chairwoman Leigh Hopwood said: "Our research shows that we could make a huge difference quickly if we all take the simple action of hitting the report button when we see something that shouldn't be on social media.

"When the new regulations take effect then social media companies will have a legal responsibility to do something about it once we have reported it."