Indexed on: 01 Jul '17Published on: 29 Jun '17Published in: Depression and Anxiety
Social networking services (SNS) have rapidly become a central platform for adolescents’ social interactions and media consumption patterns. The present study examined a representative sample of publicly accessible content related to deliberate self-injurious cutting across three SNS platforms: Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.Data collection simulated searches for publicly available deliberate self-injury content on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. Over a six-month period at randomly generated time points, data were obtained by searching “#cutting” on each SNS platform and collecting the first 10 posts generated. Independent evaluators coded posts for presence of the following: (a) graphic content, (b) negative self-evaluations, (c) references to mental health terms, (d) discouragement of deliberate self-injury, and (e) recovery-oriented resources. Differences across platforms were examined.Data collection yielded a sample of 1,155 public posts (770 of which were related to mental health). Roughly 60% of sampled posts depicted graphic content, almost half included negative self-evaluations, only 9.5% discouraged self-injury, and <1% included formal recovery resources. Instagram posts displayed the greatest proportion of graphic content and negative self-evaluations, whereas Twitter exhibited the smallest proportion of each.Findings characterize the graphic nature of online SNS deliberate self-injury content and the relative absence of SNS-posted resources for populations seeking out deliberate self-injurious cutting content. Mental health professionals must recognize the rapidly changing landscape of adolescent media consumption, influences, and social interaction as they may pertain to self-harm patterns.