Internet chat rooms can help vulnerable teenagers

Internet chat rooms can be beneficial for the mental health of young people, according to new research.

Researchers from Oxford University analysed 14 studies on the effects of internet chat rooms and concluded that they can be useful for connecting socially isolated people.

These socially isolated teenagers tended to support each other and encourage positive behaviour through the chat room medium, it was claimed.

Speaking to bbc.co.uk, the report's author Keith Hawton suggested that there could be a development of this medium to help improve the mental health of troubled teens.

He said: "Communication via the internet and other electronic means has potential roles in both contributing to and preventing suicidal behaviour in young people. The next step is going to be development of therapeutic interventions using these channels of communication, especially to access those who do not seek help from clinical services."

The report was far from 100 per cent positive about chat rooms though. According to dailymail.co.uk, some of the studies suggested that vulnerable teenagers who used chat rooms were more likely to self-harm or commit suicide. The normalisation of bullying was another problem which reportedly needs to be tackled.

The research can be read in full in the online journal Plos One.