Psychiatrist Addresses Appeal of "Slender Man" on Younger Generation

Psychiatrist Addresses Appeal of "Slender Man" on Younger Generation
By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

He's been making headlines for all the wrong reasons, Slender Man. He is a fictional killer that's making the rounds on the Internet. Most recently, two 12-year-old girls in Wisconsin say they stabbed their friend 19 times all to prove their worth to him. 

That wasn't the only occasion where violence was used in the name of Slender Man. We were curious to know, who exactly is he and why is he capturing the attention of so many in the younger generation?

"It has got the same fascination with the younger children as adults had or probably do have with Dracula," Psychiatrist, Associate Professor and Regional Chair at Texas Tech Health Science Center at the Permian Basin, Dr. Bobby Jain, said.

YouTube is filled with videos about Slender Man. This haunting, fictional killer is extremely tall, has a blank white face, a black suit and tentacles. He was originally created as a meme on the Internet but has grown to be realistic to some. He is said to have abducted groups of children and appear in the background of photos. But what is it about this character that inspired two 12-year-old's to stab their friend in Wisconsin?

"The mystery of the unknown, the mystery of someone who is evil but at the same time very powerful who has control over a lot of its victims, even though its all mythological, can be overpowering for kids who already have some psychological problems," Jain said.

Dr. Jain says kids with low self esteem, who might separate themselves from their peers, tend to focus on cartoons like these and video games.

"With such lively, high technology graphic images that these video games now produce, it can be very difficult for [kids] to separate what is reality and what is fictional," Jain said.

An excessive fear of darkness, changes in behavior, not wanting to sleep in bed by themselves or poor performance in school could mean a child has changes in their environment because of these fictional characters.

"Its very similar to a generation or two ago when television had an important role in their lives. For kids today, these animated figures have a very important aspect in their lives," Jain said.

When buying video games or looking at new cartoons, doctors recommend parents to do a little homework first. Check out the game or cartoon before you buy it instead of children getting a hold of them first. Focusing on educational games is always a plus.