Teens would rather get help from the internet than from a friend

A new survey, from online safety resource Parent Zone, has found that teenagers are more likely to seek help for their problems from the internet than they are from a friend.

When asked who they would talk to first about a problem, 34% said they'd speak to a parent or carer. 28% would go straight to the internet - but only 27% would speak to "another person they trusted" such as a friend. Less than 1% said they'd call a helpline first.

The survey was conducted to find out more about how the internet influences young people's lives, in particular their mental health. The researchers polled 220 students aged 13-20, conducting in-depth interviews with 40; and polled 119 teachers, with 6 in-depth interviews.

Vicki Shotbolt, Parent Zone chief executive, said: "All of the indicators suggest that the prevalence of mental health problems and the severity of those problems are increasing. Some people are linking the internet to the increase so we wanted to speak to the young people who have grown up with technology and hear their views so that we can start to think about how best to support them."

75% of teens who responded said that the internet makes them happy, although even they recognised that it can have negative effects. 28% agreed that the internet was bad for young people's mental health - something that a huge 44% of teachers believed - and 36% would advise upset friends to avoid Facebook.

That's likely because of the disturbing content on the 'net: more than half of the teenagers said they'd seen someone discussing suicide online, and even more (61%) have seen someone talk about hurting themselves.

91% of teachers surveyed said they felt the frequency of mental health problems among kids is increasing - with stress and anxiety (95%), depression (70%), and self harm (66%) the most common issues. Sadly, 84% also said they don't have adequate resources to help their students.

To combat this, the report recommends more support for schools, tech companies using the internet as a "force for good", and that teachers, schools, and carers "stop trying to make 20th century services meet 21st century needs".

Source: Parent Zone

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