‘Sadfishing’ social media warning from school heads

As reported by the BBC, a trend on social-media is resulting in pupils with genuine mental health problems feeling distressed, private-school leaders say

“Sadfishing” is a growing “behavioural trend”, where people make “exaggerated claims about their emotional problems to generate sympathy”, the heads say.

The trend has meant that those who suffer from real problems are often overlooked or even bullied.

Young people are finding sadfishing very “hard to manage”, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference says.

A report commissioned by the HMC, Digital Awareness UK, gathered information on the topic by interviewing 50,000 pupils in the UK.

The report quotes a pupil who shared on social media they had been “feeling really down”.

“I got a lot of people commenting on and ‘liking’ my post but then some people said I was sadfishing, the next day at school, for attention,” the pupil said.

Another study, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), of 250,000 teachers in 48 countries, suggested schools in England had the highest incidence of problems with online behaviour.

It reported that 27% of head teachers in England had to deal with problems related to online bullying every week – compared with an international average of 3%.

Chris Jeffery, head teacher of Bootham School, in north Yorkshire, who chairs the HMC’s wellbeing working group, said social media and mobile technology were now an “inescapable aspect of the landscape of the lives of young people”.

“Given the nature of that technology, trends are fast-moving and it is crucial that educators and parents have regular insights into how young people are using their devices,” he said.

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