Children’s confidence destroyed by social media

Web young person taking a selfie childline

ChildLine says young people have been coming forward in their droves to confide just how desperate, alone, and sad they feel

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7th January 2016 by Paul Cardwell 0 Comments

The confidence of children living in Scotland is being destroyed by a constant onslaught from cyber-bullying and social media.

Marking its 30th anniversary, ChildLine said today’s young people are finding it difficult to cope with the pressures of modern life, creating a generation plagued by loneliness and low self-esteem.

The counselling service said in 2014-15 it held 35,244 counselling sessions across the UK for children with low self-esteem, an increase of 9% from the previous year.

The worries that young people face and the way they talk to us have dramatically changed since ChildLine was launched

One of the biggest influences it said was social media and the desire to copy celebrities as they strive to achieve the "perfect" image.

One 13-year-old girl told counsellors the pressure to keep up with her peers had led her to hate herself and she rarely left her bedroom.

She said: “When I look at other girls online posting photos of themselves it makes me feel really worthless and ugly.

“I’m struggling to cope with these feelings and stay in my bedroom most of the time. I’m always worrying about what other people are thinking of me. I feel so down." 

It’s not just girls that are struggling though.

A 14-year-old boy told the service how lonely he felt.

He said: “I don’t really have many friends in real-life and spend a lot of time in my bedroom on my laptop.

“I don’t have much confidence in myself and I feel as if my life is really depressing." 

Peter Wanless, chief executive of NSPCC which operates ChildLine, said it was clear from the hundreds of thousands of calls it receives that we have a nation of deeply unhappy children.

He said: “The pressure to keep up with friends and have the perfect life online is adding to the sadness that many young people feel on a daily basis.

"The worries that young people face and the way they talk to us have dramatically changed since ChildLine was launched, and we will change to make sure that no matter what, young people will have a place to turn to whenever they need it.”

Since its launch in 1986 ChildLine, which has centres in Aberdeen and Glasgow, has helped over four million children via its round the clock service.

Back at the beginning, children were mostly concerned about family planning problems and sexual abuse.

Children exclusively made contact by telephone – street corner boxes or home lines – or freepost letter but last year fewer than one in three counselling sessions took place via phone.

In fact, 71% of sessions involved one-to-one chat or email and last year was the third in a row that ChildLine has counselled more young people online than by phone, as the trend to reach out via the internet continues.

Wanless added: "Times may change but one thing stays the same - our vital helpline is often the only place that many young people feel they can turn to."