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‘Pressures of online life undermine young girls’ self-esteem’

London, Nov 10 (PTI) The self-esteem of teenage girls has fallen alarmingly since the start of the economic turmoil in 2007 and the boom in the use of social media and online communication, according to a major survey of 30,000 school students in the UK.

Analysts who compiled the survey for schools across the country have reported a worrying drop in the number of 14- and 15-year-olds, particularly girls, who say they feel highly confident in their own worth.

After consistent year-on-year increases since the early 1990s in the number of young people scoring in the highest bracket of self-esteem, a sudden and dramatic change occurred after 2007, according to the Schools Health Education Unit, which works with local authorities to monitor the health and lifestyles of pupils.

From a peak in 2007, when 41 per cent of 14- and 15-year -old girls reported high self-esteem, that figure has fallen to 33 per cent, the Guardian reported.

There has also been a less significant drop in self- esteem among boys of the same age, from 55 per cent in the highest bracket in 2007 to 50 per cent in 2013, according to the survey.

Dr David Regis, research manager at the unit, said that the correlation with the economic downturn could not be ignored and that more attention might need to be paid to the sensitivities of young people to their families’ plight during the recession and slow recovery.

The unit also suggested that teenagers were, more than ever, having their lives exposed through online communication and that schools should examine whether they were educating their pupils properly on the dangers.

Three in four 14- and 15-year-old girls have chatted on the internet and 13 per cent have received a message that scared or upset them. One in five had chatted with people they did not know. A third of all pupils (34 per cent) in one authority had looked online for pornographic or violent images, films or games.

“We have always been concerned about the emotional wellbeing of young people. A while ago we took stock of young people’s emotional wellbeing as seen in our figures. At the time, we were fairly sanguine, as we thought that, while different worries came and went, young people’s self-esteem was holding up well and even increasing,” Regis said. “

But it is no longer the case: the data series shows a peak in the percentage of year 10 females [aged 14-15] scoring in the highest bracket of self-esteem scores in 2007, but the figures in that group have since declined,” Regis added.

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