Young person NRM writes for ACP about the pressure on young people today and the constant ‘need’ to make an impression and openly express yourself, to people online.
She says: "There are seemingly countless barriers to how exactly your self-expression ‘should’ manifest ‘correctly’, the way you look, the things you care about, the things you don’t…there is an infinite list and cyberbullying is a real threat."
She adds, "the Internet can be a veritable minefield of rejection, hostility and threatening speech."
NRM has a few pieces of advice for young people - whenever they find themselves in an upsetting situation online and we will share these over the next few weeks. To begin with she says:
- If the situation seems dangerous or worrying always tell somebody. This does not have to be the police, but could be a parent, a friend, a friendly relative or an adult/professional you trust. Even the fact that you’ve reached out, can help you feel less alone and put the situation into perspective. Carrying threats, bullying tactics or risky information or images, on your own shoulders, can be dangerous but also can affect you emotionally and psychologically.
- Some people are naturally more able to brush off criticism; others less so, but in my opinion, it is always better to confide than to repress any feelings you may have. To carry, indefinitely, any unnecessary and cumbersome negativity, is highly undesirable for anybody’s mental wellbeing!
- Telling somebody will not make the problem leave, however, it will be the first step in “mentally shelving” your anxiety into a place more stable and easy to deal with. Everyone needs a safe space, and someone to confide in - away from online forums and social networking and this can help you focus on what is important and safe to share when you are online.
NRM has expereinced anxiety herself and finds it helpful to write about it and share her experiences. Information and experiences from young people, helps us make decisions about what to comment on and also helps us in our work as child psychotherapists.