According to a published report in the Journal of Pediatrics‘ “Clinical Report-The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families,” there is a growing concern about a new phenomena called “Facebook depression.” Facebook depression is defined by these professionals as “depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic signs of depression.”
While many of us use the internet to enhance life through online shopping, bill paying and surfing our interest areas, there is a “dark” side to the online world. It is common knowledge that many suffer from internet addictions affiliated with gambling, pornography and video games. Now, however, there is research indicating that social media use could lead to depression–Facebook may be harmful to your health.
There is an ongoing debate among mental health professionals that considers if using Facebook/social media could be the cause of depression or if that depressive state existed prior to going online. While this is an interesting topic, which side of the debate you are on is not as important as understanding some of the unique issues that Facebook could create for an adolescent participant.
The online universe can be an intense, emotionally charged world wher many measure their own personal self-worth through unrealistic cyber perceptions. Numerical friend tallies, pictures of partying peers and online postings can harm self-esteem if one is not included in the fun. Many teens who view these pages feel their life is comparatively inadequate. Additionally , a lot of kids think of Facebook as a popularity contest of who can have the most connections and post the coolest pics.
Facebook is also a place for teens to announce their accomplishments and receive accolades from their friends and family. This is an excellent way to use Facebook, and I would encourage loved ones to participate in this manner. On the opposite side of the spectrum, imagine the student who feels he has nothing to post and nobody who will comment on his successes. Further enhancing this teen’s downward spiral of depression are the projected feelings that others may think he is a “loser” due to his inability to participate.
Lastly, cyber bullies can sink victims to a new low. While in person bully behaviors can have the long lasting emotional affects, the physicality ends upon the conclusion of the incident. Online harassment is public and can potentially remain in cyberspace forever, often making it difficult for students to recover or escape from an incident.
Using social media is one of the most common activities that kids engage in today. Research has also indicated that online interactions can have many benefits including better technical skills, enhanced communication abilities, and stronger social connections. If, however, you are not part of the “in crowd,” social media emphasizes your “outsider” status, and that could lead to depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns.