A new game called Letter X uses the social media app Snapchat as a platform for children to abuse and bully each other. The game begins when one child picks a victim that they and their friends know. People then take it in turns to message the victim the most cruel insults they can think of.
A dangerous game
This kind of game is not just a bit of banter. We are seeing an increase in the number of children committing suicide. And social media has been involved. 14-year-old Nyah James from Swansea, for example, killed herself after she was bullied on Snapchat and Facebook. As did Megan Evans, of the same age, following abuse on Snapchat. Parents in Wales are therefore being warned about this game to prevent further incidents like these.
Letter X is dangerous because abuse defines the game. Nothing is out of bounds when it comes to the insults. Part of the problem also lies in the fact that the abuse can’t be reported. 24 hours after the snap is opened, it disappears completely.
According to 2015 figures [pdf], 24% of 8-to-15-year-olds and 69% of 12-to-15-year-olds in the UK own a smartphone. And a poll conducted by The Huffington Post, as part of its Young Minds Matter series, found that 81% of parents blame social media for making their children more susceptible to mental health problems. Indeed, some researchers suggest that social media activity may be associated with low self-esteem, especially for children and adolescents.
Letter X feels like it should be the premise of an episode of Black Mirror. It illustrates the dark and unsettling side of technology.
Online interaction can dehumanise us. Being behind a screen, distant from the person we’re communicating with, can make us feel comfortable about making harmful comments we would never say in a real life, face-to-face situation. This is problematic for children and young people, who may be at a greater mental health risk from social media than adults.
Featured image via Pixabay
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?