If you want to write your feelings out, do it online. Public journals are even better for teenagers’ mental health than the traditional private pad of paper used to store personal thoughts, according to a new study.
This seems counterintuitive. Schools and parents struggle with how to prevent and punish cyberbullies, a topic constantly in the news, and other research accuses Facebook of contributing to depression. But on the blogs in this study, most comments were positive. The authors suggest that the interactive yet anonymous aspect of blogging is beneficial:
[T]he spontaneous and anonymous interpersonal interactions available in cyberspace may alleviate users’ self-perceptions and negative emotions and, consequently, contribute to their ability to cope with difficulties in their offline environment (Kraut et al., 2002). Furthermore, self-exposure, typical in cyberspace in general and in blogging in particular, could serve as an important factor in building social relationships and in coping with loneliness, shyness, social anxiety, and other conditions that inhibit healthy, satisfactory social connections.
And so maybe the semi-personal nature of an anonymous blog (not the constant curation of the perfect Facebook page) attracts the emotional support necessary to pull a teenager out of social anxiety.