Defining Digital Self-Harm


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CSCW '17: Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing

Self-harm is the infliction of pain or injury onto oneself. Though historically these behaviors were relegated to the fringes of communities, information technology now enables new ways to foster and encourage these dangerous activities. This paper defines the concept of digital self-harm as the online communication and activity that leads to, supports, or exacerbates, non-suicidal yet intentional harm or impairment of an individual's physical wellbeing. We outline a research agenda for the CSCW community to understand the correlation and possible causation of offline self-harm behaviors due to online activities, and to design and assess technologies focused on prevention, mitigation and treatment.

CAUTION: This paper includes media that could potentially be triggering to those dealing with an eating disorder or with other self-harm related illnesses. Please use caution when reading or disseminating this paper.

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