Perceptions and Understanding of Digital Self-Harm: A Qualitative Analysis of Mental Health Practitioners and Parents of Adolescents
|Hickman, E. and Macaulay, P.
The proliferation of digital technology has provided considerable connectivity benefits for young people due to the growth of social media platforms and applications. However, there is growing concern regarding the online behaviour ‘digital self-harm’. This study explored perceptions of digital self-harm held by key stakeholders—mental health practitioners and parents of adolescents. Semi-structured one-to-one interviews were conducted with five mental health practitioners and four parents of adolescents (aged 11–19 year-olds). Reflexive thematic analysis identified three themes: (a) online power, (b) effective support, and (c) morality and shame. The results suggest that parents and practitioners perceive digital self-harm as a behaviour with a cause and desired effect for young people—a means for adolescents to address power imbalances (e.g., structural, familial, or individual) and express their insecurities. Structured time and open communication are seen as essential for providing effective support for young people who engage in digital self-harm. Digital self-harm is perceived as being morally wrong and even shameful. The findings are discussed in relation to practical implications, especially the need to support parents and practitioners to support young people who may be engaging in digital self-harm.
|digital technology; young people ; social media
|Singapore Conference of Applied Psychology
|Applied Psychology Readings
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
|Web address (URL)
|30 May 2023
|Publication process dates
|26 Jun 2023
6views this month
0downloads this month