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Is Your Child Sadfishing? Here’s What You Need to Know

Photo by Adrian Swancar via Unsplash

Is Your Child Sadfishing? Here’s What You Need to Know

By Movieguide® Contributor

Sadfishing is when someone posts sad content on social media to gain attention, according to Choosing Therapy, and the emotional posts can be a sign that a social media user’s mental health is at risk.

“Labeling something as sadfishing can be an offshoot of cancel culture when the responses to an emotionally charged post invalidate the struggle of the person who created the post,” Crosswalk reported. “Claiming that a post is sadfishing can also be a form of ‘cyberbullying’ or ‘victim-blaming.’”

Though some posts do deserve that label, Psychology Today says that labeling posts as sadfishing can deny “the legitimacy of a person’s feelings or experience. Like other forms of canceling, it is reactive. It requires no insight, inquiry, or evidence but leaves plenty of room on the bandwagon for others to climb aboard.”

A study published in BMC Psychology found that sadfishing can increase adolescents’ feelings of victimization and encourage cyberbullying, stalking, sexual abuse, exploitation, government surveillance, and interpersonal harm.

Don Grant, PhD, national adviser for Healthy Device Management of Newport Healthcare in Los Angeles keeps tabs on sadfishing posts.

“We’ve seen [sadfishing posts] that we’ve actually had to make calls and do welfare checks [about]. Those of us who know the person or their colleague – we do a welfare check on that because it’s so concerning,” he said.

The post can have more impact based on the platform.

“…If you just see a post and it’s a phrase or two with pictures, or it’s someone saying they’re sad…that’s hard enough. But when you have a video-based social media platform, you can see them, you can hear the cadence of the [person’s] voice. It’s very dramatic. That’s more impacting,” he said.

According to FOX News, the frequency and/or amount of sadfishing posts can be an indicator that the user needs help.

Parents need to keep tabs on their kids’ social media posts to assess their wellness.

“Parents are like the first responders in a potential healthcare crisis when their kids seem to be posting an increasing amount of emotional content,” Crosswalk said. “Their posts need to be taken seriously, and one of the most important responses is to be intentional about being more available for them and consider asking some hard questions.”

Choosing Therapy adds that these signs in conjunction with sadfishing may indicate there’s a crisis:

  • Isolating themselves from loved ones
  • Posting about giving away items
  • Posting about “not being around much longer”
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Losing friends
  • Sudden changes in social media post behaviors and patterns
  • Talking about self-harm or posting pictures of scars, burns, etc.

Movieguide® recently reported social media’s impact on mental health:

A study by The Yale School of Medicine “found that youth who spent the most time on their digital technology were statistically more likely to exhibit higher internalizing problems two years later. Internalizing problems include depression, anxiety, social anxiety, somatic complaints, and other concerns. This association between frequent screen time and mental health problems was mediated by specific changes in brain development.”

“We had hypothesized findings of this sort, the relationship between high-frequency screen media activity and both internalizing and externalizing behaviors. We’re in a stage of understanding better brain-behavior relationships relating to screen media activity given substantial changes in how youth use digital technologies,” said Marc Potenza, MD, PhD, Albert E. Kent Professor of Psychiatry and professor in the Child Study Center and of neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine.

From mental health struggles to sleep problems, excessive screen time and social media continue to detrimentally affect young people.


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