Teen 'Facebook Depression' Problematic, Says Expert

Dennis Faas's picture

Following a recent report that found the people with the most Facebook friends tend to be those with the most anxiety, pediatricians are now warning parents to keep tabs on their teens' use of social networking sites, and to be vigilant in searching out "Facebook depression".

About a month ago Edinburgh Napier University released a study which suggests that many Facebook users associated a great deal of anxiety with using the site, from rejecting 'friend requests' to navigating stressful social circles.

Researchers went as far as associating Facebook use to gambling in some situations. In the same respect, people just don't know when to put the mouse away.

Life's Ugly Details Often Not Visible Online

Now pediatricians are warning that Facebook could be particularly dangerous for teens.

Boston's Dr. Gwen O'Keeffe, an author for the American Academy of Pediatricians says that Facebook friend tallies, status updates, and photos can all ramp up anxiety and make one feel that they're somehow not measuring up with the rest of the crowd.  (Source: time.com)

This is especially true considering that most Facebook profiles or pictures don't reveal life's ugly little details -- such as family disputes or lost jobs, for example.

Too Much Exposure Detrimental to Mental Health

O'Keffe feels that Facebook replicates the stressful experience associated with sitting in a crowded cafeteria or high school hallway. For some kids, exposure to this kind of pressure around-the-clock can be very detrimental to their overall mental health.

Chicago-area 16-year-old Abby Abolt says she's never felt stressed about using Facebook, but could understand it presenting a problem for some teens.

"If you really didn't have that many friends and weren't really doing much with your life, and saw other peoples' status updates and pictures and what they were doing with friends, I could see how that would make them upset," Abolt said. (Source: theglobeandmail.com)

Facebook Widening the Happiness Gap?

Facebook isn't all bad, however.

Some experts, such as Dr. Megan Moreno of the University of Wisconsin, says that it can enhance social experiences for those kids who feel positive about their personal lives. But for others, it can only make the pain worse.

"A lot of what's happening is actually very healthy, but it can go too far," Moreno said.

Pediatricians recommend parents have conversations with their kids about using Facebook and social networking sites like it. Most important may be the message that a Facebook profile doesn't always tell the whole story.

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