Young feel better after internet rants, poll finds

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 January, 2010, 12:00am

Most young people find it useful to share their feelings and vent their frustration through online forums such as blogs and social networking sites, a survey has found.

But the abundance of negative musings that wind up online could also harm young internet users, the Federation of Youth Groups warns.

The group interviewed 693 students from Form One through Seven about their behaviour online and how that made them feel.

Forty-three per cent, or 303 students, said they wrote about their feelings on blogs or on Facebook pages when they were feeling troubled. Nearly all said they felt better afterwards.

According to the survey, 435 of the respondents said they felt unhappy for at least one to two days every week. A quarter of respondents said they could not find people to talk to about their emotional problems. Respondents said that when they felt troubled, they became 'impulsive', 'prone to violence' and 'short-tempered'.

A student and regular blogger who goes by the pseudonym of Dante said writing online about negative thoughts made him feel better.

A supervisor with the federation, Tsui Siu-man, said sharing emotions online had become one of the main channels for young people to vent negative feelings.

But such an abundance of expression could have a negative impact on other internet users.

'Information is disseminated far and wide quickly on the Internet. Negative writings can accumulate and disperse like germs online. Being constantly exposed to such negative information, young users might develop negative emotions.'

The federation has set up a team of online counsellors. The social workers visit forums, social networking sites and blogs maintained by young people to seek out those who appear to be unhappy.

They strike up conversations online and offer guidance on dealing with emotions and how to make better use of the Internet.

Dante is one of the young computer users approached by a counsellor last year. 'From my online experience, when a group of young people gather together online to discuss negative things, the problems or troubles they face will be writ large, making them feel even worse.

'Now, I try to write more positive things on my friends' blogs. It can be jokes, compliments or other encouraging remarks about them. Instead of making things worse, I hope that what I say online can cheer people up,' he said.



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