Study: Blog more therapeutic for teens than diary

University of Haifa research shows writing blogs helps youths cope with emotional and social stresses.

February 21, 2012 04:07
2 minute read.

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Teens who write blogs are not just trying to get attention and tell the world what they think, researchers at the University of Haifa who studied the subject have found.

Writing blogs helps youths cope with emotional and social stresses, they concluded.

Thus, said Dr. Meyran Boniel-Nissim and Prof. Azy Barak, the young generation writing missives for cyberspace is more effective therapeutically than their writing a diary for their eyes only.

Young blog writers who know someone is reading their words bolster their self-confidence and help them cope with difficulty, the researchers found. In previous generations, writing personal diaries or articles that no one else would see was found to be therapeutic. But this does not work in the online generation, said Boniel-Nissim and Barak.

Publicity about their thoughts helps them cope better with such difficulties, they said.

The team identified 161 youths aged 14 to 17 who were diagnosed using a questionnaire with social and emotional difficulties. They were randomly divided into six groups. The first two groups were asked to write an Internet blog dealing with their personal stresses; one group wrote a blog that was open to comments; and the other did not allow any.

Two others were asked to write a personal blog dealing with general matters, one open to comments and the other without. The fifth wrote a diary on their personal computer that was not shown to anyone, while the sixth was a control group who did not write anything online.

This activity went on twice weekly for 10 weeks, and all the blogs were supervised by the researchers to ensure that they did not receive insulting or damaging replies.

Questionnaires were sent to all participants before, immediately after and two more months following the experiment.

The content and language of the blogs were analyzed from the text.

The results were that emotional and social difficulties were much alleviated in those who wrote a personal blog about themselves, compared to those who wrote nothing.

Among those who did write blogs, the teens who wrote about their emotional and social difficulties showed a marked improvement compared to those who wrote only about general topics. Those who received comments on what they wrote fared better than teenagers who received no feedback.

The Haifa researchers concluded that blogs offer the advantage for troubled youths of airing their problems, getting feedback, social support and offers for help.

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