A new study
shows that teens may think that hurting themselves is acceptable behavior after watching self-harming videos on websites like YouTube. When you search "self harm" on YouTube, over 5,000 related videos pop up, some of which may trigger cutting, burning, picking or other forms of self-injury. The report says that an estimated 14-24 percent of teens engage in this behavior, which is also known as "non-suicidal self-injury" or NSSI.
While there's plenty of information on self-injury on the Internet, the research focuses on the specific scope of self-harm videos on websites like YouTube, reports CNN
. The findings show that YouTube's top 50 viewed videos include a live person, and the top 100 most-viewed videos have logged over 2 million views. About 80 percent of the top 100 videos are listed as public.
Researchers found that 53 percent of the content was present as factual or educational, while 51 percent had a dark tone. More than half of the videos were without graphic content warnings.
You may be thinking, "So what? There's plenty of bad stuff on the Internet." Well, the study authors concluded that the YouTube content shows "an alarming new trend among youth and young adults and a significant issue for researchers and mental health workers."
Basically, they're saying that these videos may be encouraging the behavior, making it seem normal or exciting, but this could increase the risk of self-harm.
"NSSI is a young person's affliction...one in ten will kill themselves," says Dr. Charles Raison, CNN Health's mental health expert. "A lot of people will outgrow the behavior."
What do you think of the study's findings? Do you think agree that amount of graphic content available to teens could encourage them to hurt themselves? Or are the researchers overreacting? Let us know what you think in the comments.