Doctors: Cyberbullying Leads to Rise in Teen Mental Health Issues | Bangalore News

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Bengaluru: Pediatricians and adolescent health experts have observed an increase in mental health issues among adolescents due to increased exposure to internet and social media applications. With the pandemic-induced tectonic lifestyle changes, they are subject to different forms of bullying, sexual abuse, learning difficulties and anxiety, doctors say.
Sensitive communication is key to resolving most of these issues, doctors say. Awareness of technology, knowledge of online trends, establishing a friendly bond and controlling language/expression styles at home should be encouraged from the age of 9-11 so that Malicious elements lurking in these online spaces can be kept at bay once they transition into adolescence.
Dr Uma Rao, an expert in adolescent health, said sexual harassment and bullying have increased since the closure of physical spaces. “Children used to socialize in schools/playgrounds, but now they hang out on WhatsApp, Facebook, etc.” A 10-year-old boy brought to Dr Rao was forced to show his private parts to a man posing as an acquaintance. “The child fell into depression and started to perform poorly,” she said. Pediatrician Dr. Shuba Badami pointed out that poor physical health, which has become common during the pandemic, also helps bullies attack their peers in online spaces. According to doctors, most students in online classes have a simultaneous online chat where they could abuse or bully their classmates.
Dr Geeta Patil said one of his teenage patients was bullied for being obese by her classmates on WhatsApp. “He felt worthless as his peers questioned his gender and abilities while mocking his height. The boy attempted suicide by consuming his grandmother’s medicine and remained in intensive care for several days. He is still recovering mentally, she said.
Doctors emphasize the importance of healthy and friendly relationships between adults and children to prevent the latter from being harmed. They say parents should be emotionally available to protect children from bullying/harassment as well as to stop bullying children. “Children only reflect their parents, family members, teachers and other adults. If anyone around them is violent, they are likely to notice it,” said pediatrician Dr. Vimochana K.
There is consensus within the pediatric community that sensitivity training and sex education should be provided in schools, and that parents, teachers, support and housekeeping staff and the security personnel should be mandatory attendees.
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