Health

Report: Sexting, Online Bullying Increases Teen Depression

| by Michael Allen

The Priory Group, a UK chain of mental health hospitals, says that explicit photos sent via cell phones (sexting) and online bullying are increasing mental health problems in teens.

Admissions to Priory Group medical facilities have gone up 50 percent in just four years, notes the Daily Mail.

Apparently, much of the online bullying is about female appearance and weight, which is connected to sexting. Explicit pictures may be shared outside of the intended recipient(s), and create hurtful gossip among groups of people.

Some teens are also posting their pictures on Ask.fm, an anonymous website where people can ask strangers for feedback on anything, but often get skewered. Ask.fm was allegedly linked (because of the actions of some of its users) to the deaths of four teens in England and Ireland in 2012 and 2013.

Dr Natasha Bijlani, a consulting psychiatrist at a Priory Hospital, told the Daily Mail:

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This relatively new phenomenon of sexting, where explicit texts and pictures are sent between smartphone devices, seems to have become endemic, and we are not sure of the long-term consequences.

However, coupled with online bullying, we can expect an increasing number of people suffering issues of trust, shame, and self-loathing, sometimes manifesting itself in self-harming.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Ask.fm told Opposing Views in an email:

Ask.fm isn’t a “double blind” anonymous platform: you create a known profile like you would on Facebook or Twitter. As you know, users can choose to pose a question to another user on an anonymous basis. While anonymity is an important feature of the site –it doesn’t define the site. It is an option users can enable when asking questions. That said, anonymity with no safety controls is definitely a problem – especially given our large teen audience. We are dedicated to infusing the service with robust safety controls and features so that our users can be in the driver’s seat to dictate their ideal experience on the service.

In more health news, a study by researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, found that a new drug, alpha-PVP, also known as "flakka," is as powerful and addictive as MDPV, commonly known as "bath salts."

The study, which was recently published in the medical journal Psychopharmacology, tested flakka and bath salts on rats, and found the small mammals had almost an identical desire for both stimulants, which can cause increased physical movement and abnormal body temperatures.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) put a temporary ban on flakka in the early part of 2014, which is likely to become permanent.

The appeal of flakka are its strong effects and cheap price, which can be as low as $5 per hit.

Sources: Daily Mail, Scripps Research Institute
Image Credit: 白井瑞樹