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The social media problems gripping our girls

When 10-year-old Caroline* walked into Dr Michael Carr-Gregg’s Melbourne office last year, her body thrummed with anxiety.

She and her mother had come to see Dr Carr-Gregg, a child and adolescent psychologist, because the girl had been coerced by a 10-year-old boy at her school into texting him a photograph of her breasts.

“He coerced her in a series of six or seven messages, and finally she did,” said Dr Carr-Gregg. “And then he sent it off to 37 of his mates.”

The result was catastrophic. “It was absolutely devastating,” said Dr Carr-Gregg.

Children under the age of 13 should not own smartphones, says cyber safety expert Susan McLean.

“She became quite depressed, very withdrawn, she had tummy aches, headaches … nightmares. She didn’t want to go to school. Virtually every development was compromised by what happened to her.”

Caroline had to switch schools once her humiliation “became very public”. And that was just the start.

Was Dr Carr-Gregg shocked to see such a young girl pressured to take a nude selfie?

After all, high school-age girls have in recent years been the focus of an avalanche of studies and articles about how certain kinds of social media posts, selfies, or followers, can lead to issues like depression, anorexia, bullying, and even murder.

But Dr Carr-Gregg was not surprised by his patient’s age, saying that a growing number of primary school-age children were experiencing such problems. He counsels a girl aged between 10 and 12, who is suffering as a result of social media — she had been bullied, or had a “compromising photo” uploaded — every eight weeks.

“But it’s probably a hell of a lot more common than that.”

Originally Published by ABC News, continue reading here.

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