Jump to content

"Sadfishing" Trend May Be Risky for Teens

Nurses Article   (1,363 Views 8 Replies 684 Words)

J.Adderton has 26 years experience as a BSN, MSN .

7 Followers; 96 Articles; 30,997 Profile Views; 345 Posts

"Sadfishing" May Cause Additional Harm

Did your parents ever tell you the story of the boy who cried wolf? “Sadfishing” is a new social media trend where tweens and teens make exaggerated claims about being down and depressed, making it difficult to know if they are truly in crisis. Read more about the darker side of the sadfishing phenomenon.

"Sadfishing" Trend May Be Risky for Teens

Parents of tweens and teens are being warned about a new social media trend thought to be inspired by young celebrities. The trend of “sadfishing” is when someone makes an exaggerated claim about feeling down or emotional to draw sympathy and attention from others. Digital Awareness UK (DAUK) recently published a new report based on more than 50,000 face-to-face sessions with students ages 11 to 16. The interviews revealed “sadfishing” posts can backfire when someone is looking for genuine sympathy and peers accuse them of attention seeking.

Sparked by Celebrities

In early 2019, momager Kris Jenner tweeted that her daughter had a “huge” announcement and told followers to “prepare to be moved” by a “most raw story,'' adding #bethechange and #shareyourstory.  Kendall Jenner later announced she would be partnering with a large company to promote acne treatment products, with the decision based on her own experience with acne. The Kardashian duo received backlash from Twitter users who viewed the announcement as over-hyped since most people can relate to acne. 

Even more recently, Justin Bieber shared with his 119 million Instagram followers that “it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning when you are overwhelmed with your life”. Bieber also received backlash and was accused of playing the sympathy card for attention.

What are the Harmful Emotional Effects?

Social media users frequently use the platform for seeking attention and over-sharing.  We all have a social media follower or friend who regularly participates in sadfishing.  However, the school environment can magnify the response of teen peers and cause further harm to those with emotional or mental health issues.

Social media posts don’t provide us with verbal and nonverbal cues, therefore, it is difficult to know if a person is looking for support or if they are truly in crisis.  Shoshana Bennett, PHD, a clinical psychologist in California, suggests thinking about previous posts to help determine if someone should be taking seriously.  A sadfishing post that comes out of the blue from someone could be a sign they need help. However, any post that someone threatens to hurt themselves should be taken seriously.

Cyber Grooming

“Sadfishing” may open the door for cyber grooming and bullying.  Cyber grooming is when a person, often an adult, befriends and builds an emotional relationship with a child online.  The goal of cyber grooming is to build trust with the victim for later sexual abuse, exploitation or trafficking. Perpetrators may take on the fake identity of a child or teen and find victims on youth friendly websites.  The relationship may start with general conversations about school and hobbies, and then progress into sexual conversations.

Groomers are savvy. The report cites an example of a teenage girl who shared her experiences with depression online.  Afterwards, she was asked by a much older man to send him explicit pictures of herself.

How to Respond

If you are concerned about someone’s post on social media, reach out in a private message or have a conversation with them.  You can start by simply saying “I saw your post and I am concerned”. In the case of children and teens, reach out to a caregiver or school employee.  It is also OK to encourage the friend to seek professional help. If you are truly concerned about someone’s safety, you can help them call 911, a suicide prevention line or go to the emergency department.

The way NOT to respond is with a statement that minimizes the person’s experience, such as “It’s not so bad, just get over it”.

To learn more about the sadfishing trend and available resources for help, visit the following:

National Suicide Prevention Hotline- 800-273-8255

SAMHSA’s National Helpline- 800-662-HELP

Sadfishing: What Parents Need to Know

ChildSafeNet Cyber Grooming

What do you think?  Is "sadfishing" a true phenomenon or are "teens just being teens"?

I am a nurse with over 20 years experience in a variety of settings and roles. I enjoy writing about issues and topics I experience in my own nursing practice. I am a nurse in recovery and share my story to help another nurse experiencing the fear, shame, guilt and hopelessness of substance abuse. Visit my Allnurses blog to read about my journey and past articles.

7 Followers; 96 Articles; 30,997 Profile Views; 345 Posts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

7 Followers; 3,266 Posts; 22,025 Profile Views

It's not just teens it's grown adults. They leave cryptic Facebook posts that leave their friends confused about what is going on and won't elaborate. Annoys the hell out of me and I refuse to pander to it.

If it's a kid that's another story.

Edited by Wuzzie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

3 Followers; 1,605 Posts; 3,401 Profile Views

8 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

It's not just teens it's grown adults. They leave cryptic Facebook posts that leave their friends confused about what is going on and won't elaborate. Annoys the hell out of me and I refuse to pander to it.

If it's a kid that's another story.

I know. I see the "I'm done", or "I've had enough" and when people ask, you get the "I don't want to discuss it on here".  I always PM "then why put it out there?"  I've been called names over that 🤷‍♀️

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

210 Posts; 2,823 Profile Views

This has been going on for years, teenagers go on emotional support groups for anxiety and depression or Tumblr or Instagram or whatever, then proceed to one-up each other with their sadness.

”My mom yelled at me.”  “Oh yeah?  My mom beats me.”  “That all?  My mom beat me then committed suicide.”  I wish I was exaggerating.

Its a misery conga-line.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

553 Posts; 3,180 Profile Views

Doesn’t stop at 16 lol 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hoosier_RN has 20 years experience as a MSN and specializes in LTC, home health, hospice, ICU, ER, dialysis.

3 Followers; 1,605 Posts; 3,401 Profile Views

10 hours ago, Rionoir said:

Doesn’t stop at 16 lol 

sadly, for some, it seems to progress

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hppygr8ful has 15 years experience and specializes in Psych, Addictions, Elder Care, L&D.

5 Followers; 2,834 Posts; 32,764 Profile Views

This is nothing new - I've been in adolescent psych for 20 years and it was a thing in the early years of social media starting with MYSPACE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nurse SMS has 8 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

4 Followers; 6,043 Posts; 47,891 Profile Views

Heck, it happened before social media was a thing. We did it on notebook paper passed during class.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hppygr8ful has 15 years experience and specializes in Psych, Addictions, Elder Care, L&D.

5 Followers; 2,834 Posts; 32,764 Profile Views

I was having a discussion with my millennial co-workers about the trends in teenage depression and suicidality (I was born in the last year of the baby boom) and made a comment that I blame it on the TV dinner. The minute families stopped gathering around the table for at least one family meal was the beginning of the end. Connecting with family and guests was a way to form less self centered relationships.

Today people sit at the table separated by their social media. We have had a rash of kids at the facility where I work posting on wannaroxia websites where they compare their thigh gaps and other sites where they compare self mutilation. They actually form friend groups and plan to get hospitalized together.

Not sure I have any answers but I do believe that no minor should have unrestricted access to social media.

Hppy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
×