Peter H Brown Clinical Psychologist

Psychology News & Resources

Online ‘Cold Shoulder’ Shown To Effect Kids Self-Esteem

Read the original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)

From ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2010) — Research by psychologists at the University of Kent has revealed that online ostracism is a threat to children’s self-esteem.

The study, the results of which are published March 22 in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, looked at how children, adolescents and adults react to being ostracised by other players during an online computer game. This is the first time the effect of online ostracism on children has been investigated.

The study was carried out by a team at the University’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes and was led by Professor Dominic Abrams. Professor Abrams explained that research into cyber-bullying usually focuses on direct abuse and insults. ‘However, a more indirect and perhaps common form of bullying is ostracism — when people are purposefully ignored by others,’ he said. Professor Abrams also explained that ‘online ostracism affects adults by threatening their basic needs for self-esteem, sense of belonging, sense of meaning and sense of control. We wanted to discover whether children and adolescents have similar reactions.’

Click image to read reviews

Three groups of participants took part in the study: 41 eight and nine-year-old children, 79 thirteen and fourteen-year-olds and 46 twenty-year-old adults. All were asked to play a game of online ‘cyberball’ in which three online players — depicted on screen by their names — passed a ball to one another. In games where the participant was included, they threw and received the ball four times within the trial. However, in a game when they were ostracised they received the ball only twice at the start, and then the other two players continued to play only passing the ball between themselves.

After each game participants’ basic needs were assessed, as well as how much they had enjoyed the game.

Professor Abrams said: ‘For all age groups, online ostracism substantially threatened the four basic needs — esteem, belonging, meaning and control — and also lowered their mood, showing that social exclusion online is very powerful even among children.’

However, there were also differences between the three age groups in their responses to cyber-ostracism. Ostracism affected the self-esteem of the eight and nine-year-old children more than the other groups. This suggests that the adolescents and adults have developed better buffers against threats to self-esteem.

Among the thirteen to fourteen-year-olds ostracism had the largest effect on feelings of belonging, strongly suggesting that adolescents may place a higher value on inclusion in peer networks than do children or adults.

The good news is that the negative reactions were cancelled out when children were included in a later game. Professor Abrams added: ‘Whereas adults might be quite skilled at finding a relationship in which to be included after having been ostracised, it could be a bigger challenge for children. This suggests that parents and schools need to be vigilant in case children in their care are experiencing sustained ostracism.

Read the original Research Paper HERE (Free PDF-internal link)


March 26, 2010 Posted by | Addiction, Bullying, Child Behavior, Internet, Parenting, Resilience, Social Psychology, Technology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teenage Drinking:The Critical Need for Better Coping Skills Training

Alcohol abuse statistics show that alcohol abuse among teenagers is increasing in the United States. What are some of the reasons for this? More than a few chemical dependency consultants declare that liquor, wine, and beer advertisements constructed by the media are a significant reason for the proliferation of youth alcohol abuse.

Other alcohol dependency consultants believe that the increase in teenage alcohol abuse is due to the acceptability and accessibility of alcohol in our society.

Still other alcoholism experts claim that many of our teens engage in excessive drinking due to the increased anxiety that they experience.

518ML4q94zL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_From a somewhat different perspective, because both parents in many families are gainfully employed, the lack of parental supervision surely has to play a significant role in the increase in teen alcohol abuse. And last of all, different alcoholism specialists state that the expansion of adolescent alcohol abuse is due, in part, to our “anything goes” society.

Coping Skills and Abusive Drinking

One component of adolescent alcohol abuse that looks like it is lacking in the substance abuse research literature, then again, is the paucity of educational programs that teach students how to augment their coping skills so that their dangerous drinking behavior is drastically reduced or gotten rid of.

More explicitly, science has disclosed the fact that there is an indirect relationship between poor coping skills and excessive drinking. In effect, this means that the poorer the coping skills, the greater the frequency of alcohol abuse. To the degree that this is an accurate argument, why isn’t coping skills training a significant part of the educational core curriculum in all of our high schools, junior high schools, and elementary schools?

A Society That Underscores Youth Coping Skills

Let us create a scenario for the purpose of clarification. Let us imagine a society in which students are trained how to achieve superior coping skills all the way from kindergarten up to and including their final year in high school.

In such a society, when life gets stressful, individuals who are ”coping skills experts” will be able to respond in a healthier and more successful way, contrary to others who fail to put their coping skills into operation.

Stated differently, students who demonstrate good coping skills will be more able to think logically and display top-shelf decision making as opposed to teenagers who, because they were unsuccessful in their attempts to learn quality coping skills, are attracted to the “quick fix” of excessive drinking.

What would happen in the above “ideal” society, moreover, if students not only obtained exceptional coping skills 51OBVAU6WxL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_education but also received an exceptional education that underscored the short term and long term injurious results associated with drug abuse and alcohol abuse? Emphasizing these types of drug and alcohol abuse facts, along with more advanced coping skills training, it is asserted, would help students stay away from the apparent appeal related to adolescent drinking and, accordingly, would radically diminish the alcohol abuse shown by teens in our country.

Teenage Abusive Drinking: Conclusion

There are certainly various compelling reasons why so many of our adolescents drink in a hazardous manner. Such a complicated subject demands a thorough and more pertinent educational and preventative response by our students, parents, politicians, and educators so that our teenagers can learn how to cope with life’s difficulties in a more productive and responsible way rather than gravitating to risky drinking behavior to solve their problems.


July 23, 2009 Posted by | Addiction, Alcohol, Resilience | Leave a comment