Blogging may help 'anxious' teens release emotional distress

Washington, Jan 5 (ANI): Blogging may help teens suffering from social anxiety, by improving their self-esteem and helping them relate better to their friends, researchers say.

"Research has shown that writing a personal diary and other forms of expressive writing are a great way to release emotional distress and just feel better," said the study's lead author, Meyran Boniel-Nissim, PhD, of the University of Haifa, Israel.

"Teens are online anyway, so blogging enables free expression and easy communication with others," he stated.

Their study found maintaining a blog had a stronger positive effect on troubled students' well-being than merely expressing their social anxieties and concerns in a private diary.

Opening the blog up to comments from the online community intensified those effects.

The researchers randomly surveyed 161 high school students, with an average age of 15, in Israel, who had some level of social anxiety or distress.

Four groups of students were assigned to blog. Two of those groups were told to focus their posts on their social problems, with one group opening the posts to comments; the other two groups could write about whatever they wanted and, again, one group opened the blog up to comments.

Two more groups acted as controls - either writing a private diary about their social problems or doing nothing. Participants in the writing and blogging groups were told to post messages at least twice a week for 10 weeks.

Self-esteem, social anxiety, emotional distress and the number of positive social behaviours improved significantly for the bloggers when compared to the teens who did nothing and those who wrote private diaries.

Bloggers who were instructed to write specifically about their difficulties and whose blogs were open to comments improved the most. All of these results were consistent at the two-month follow-up.

The results have been published online in the American Psychological Association journal Psychological Services. (ANI)