Digital self-harm: Prevalence, motivations and outcomes for teens who cyberbully themselves

Netsafe (2019)
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This research report presents findings about the extent and nature of digital self-harm among New Zealand teens. Digital self-harm is broadly defined here as the anonymous online posting or sharing of mean or negative online content about oneself. The report centres on the prevalence of digital self-harm (or self-cyberbullying) among New Zealand teens (aged 13-17), the motivations, and outcomes related to engaging in this behaviour. The findings described in this report are representative of the teenage population of New Zealand by gender, ethnicity and age. Key findings are: Overall, 6% of New Zealand teens have anonymously posted mean or negative content online about themselves in the past year. Teenagers’ top reasons for this behaviour were: making a joke, wanting to show resilience, looking for friends’ sympathy, and seeking reassurance of friendship. By exploring the nature and extent of this behaviour, we are providing the online safety community, schools and parents with insights about a complex and, to some extent, hidden phenomenon involving New Zealand teens.

Author Profiles

Edgar Pacheco
Victoria University of Wellington


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