Blogging Makes Teens Feel Better
The topic of leaving your kids in front of an Internet connection may still be controversial to some, but there is actually a therapeutic value to kids posting their thoughts online. A recent study of teenagers who blogged, as well as those who kept traditional diaries, discovered that support and engagement from a online community actually made teens feel better about their problems.
Two psychology professors at the University of Haifa in Israel randomly surveyed high school students who averaged about 15 years old in age. The chosen 161 did demonstrate “some level” of social anxiety or stress-related anxiety. Most told researchers that they found it difficult to relate to their friends or to make new ones.
The teen were then divided into six groups. The first two groups were asked to write online about their social difficulties, with one group adding a comments section to their posts . The second two groups were allowed to write about any aspect of their young lives that appealed to them. Once again, one group was told to add a comments section for readers. All four groups had to blog at least twice a week and, as a control, two more groups were asked to keep a traditional “dear diary” or to keep no extra diary at all.
Four psychologists combed through the entries to understand the kids’ relative social and emotional state. But in all the groups, the biggest boost in mood occurred within the teen bloggers who wrote about their dilemmas and then allowed commentators to respond. Apparently that feeling of engagement and support from an online community elevated their mood to a that an place a old-fashioned diary could not. The New York Times reports:
“I definitely write posts in which I talk about being overwhelmed, and it helps me to relax,” said Royar Loflin, a 17-year-old blogger from Norfolk, Va., who did not participate in the study. Though her blog, “My Life as a Young Southern Prep,” includes everything from fashion to book reviews, Royar also writes about the stress of her junior year.
“People will write in the comments, ‘I remember when I was in your shoes’ ” and ‘Don’t worry — you’ll get through the SATs!’ and it’s wonderful,” she said. “It really helps put everything into perspective.”
One of the doctors in the study noted that the comments tended to be uniformly positive as the kids described their stresses and anxieties, with readers offering “constructive” advice at times. Journaling and keeping diaries has already been recognized as a form of a therapy — no Internet connection required. But for today’s web-savvy teens, it would appear that taking their sentiments and observations to the online space has even more to offer them.