Beware of ‘Facebook Depression’

Time recently pondered whether “Pediatricians Should Discuss ‘Facebook Depression’ with Kids.” Young people shouldn’t be surprised, apparently, if the subject of Facebook comes up at their next physical. The idea of “Facebook depression,” which appears to be the idea that some socially isolated young people get depressed after extensive contact with social media, has become so widespread that The American Academy for Pediatrics (AAP) released guidelines that urge parents to ask more social media-related questions in order to assess the mental and emotional health of young people.

You might be wondering, how could Facebook be the source of a public health dilemma? Gwenn O’Keeffe, co-author of the report that lead to AAP’s new guidelines and a pediatrician outside Boston, maintains that the digital world that young people now live in is one of the primary outlets that influence their social and emotional development. This is when broader issues like concern over sexting and cyberbullying come into play.

Constantly seeing updates from their peers online can make young people feel even more isolated and ostracized before the dawn of social media. O’Keeffe is calling for parents and pediatricians to focus more education and attention to teaching our youth about how to handle social networking sites correctly.

There is definitely something to be said about the negative effects of technology on development; however, with every innovation you have to take the cons along with the pros. For many young people, Facebook has proven to be a successful social outlet for them to develop their friendships even further, and yet for some it has proved to be a burden on this development.

The key is always moderation. Carrots might be good for you, but if you eat too many, you might also turn orange. 14-year old Vivian realizes this and discusses it in her blog post, The Pros and Cons of Facebook. A similar discussion posted on CBS news describes “Facebook depression” risk in more detail, highlighting that, “Researchers disagree on whether [Facebook] is simply an extension of depression some kids feel in other circumstances, or a distinct condition linked with using the online site.”

With changing technology, we must accept the risks with the potential rewards, and with social networking, there are a lot of benefits to reap. O’Keeffe’s concerns that the role of technology can have an effect on the mental and social health of young people are valid, but there is a major gap in the attitude between parents and children toward social networking sites like Facebook. Parents more often have an overwhelmingly negative attitude about social networking, sometimes because parents don’t understand how it works. Such an attitude doesn’t help young people in learning how to effectively navigate the digital world.

This post was originally published by Campus Progress.

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Photo from merfam via flickr
written by Erin Glinowiecki, a Campus Progress blogger


Kenneth L.
Kenneth L6 years ago

(got cut off below):

.“There are no objective tests in Psychiatry---no X-ray, laboratory, or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder.” Dr. Allen Frances, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry

"This is not science. This is incredibly effective marketing. It has nothing to do with science". Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau, former pharmaceutical sales rep.

Kenneth L.
Kenneth L6 years ago

'Facebook Depression'????? What goof spawned this idea? Is that supposed to be a scientific 'mental disorder' diagnosis? Who made it? This is society out of control with applying any 'mental disorder' label to anyone who does anything...too much, too little, too long, too short, too this, too that. Any label of 'depression' is the singular creation of one field, Psychiatry. Anyone who uses it in any form or combination is simply parroting another one of Psychiatry's 'mental disorder' terms.

While emotional and mental conditions are all real, that does not equal what Psychiatry says it is.

"All in all, more human beings struggling with their emotions will be classified as sick, leading to more diagnostic codes that fit their supposed “disorders” and more money billed to Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers." Dr. Keith Ablow, Psychiatrist

"Going to a psychiatrist has become one of the most dangerous things a person can do."--Peter Breggin, Psychiatrist

"They (psychiatrists) basically believe that EVERYONE is mentally ill" Dr. Jeffrey Schaler, professor of Psychology

"If you spent days reading the newest DSM (the book of Psychiatric 'mental disorders') you would be able to diagnose every person that you ever saw" Yvonne Noyes-Stevens, Psychologist

.“There are no objective tests in Psychiatry---no X-ray, laboratory, or exam finding that says definitively that someone does or does not have a mental disorder.” Dr. Allen Frances,

Shan D.
Shan D7 years ago

My emotions are much more negatively influenced by seeing Facebook's logo every damn place (including here on Care2), exhorting to share what I just did on Facebook.

Dear Facebook: Get out of my face. If I wanted to share my life with millions of strangers, I'd already be on your site. Or a politician. Since I'm neither, just Leave Me Alone!

Lucy H.
Lucy H7 years ago

Once again, I think people are putting the cart before the horse. Facebook depression? Have you considered that depressed teens take to Facebook because they have trouble with social interaction rather than Facebook creating the problem?

Much easier to blame a social networking site than to look at the toxic environment we now call school.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal8 years ago

What is wrong with face to face interaction and human contact? Typing on a computer does not provide interaction where you can actually be with another human being. Learn to balance!

Chris P.
Chris P8 years ago

Hi every one a computer should not run your life. It is here for work, not fun. Turn it off and do nothing that gives life rewards.

yakub m.
yakub M8 years ago

MODERATION MODERATION MODERATION why spend endless hours on social media and neglect to youe detriment what makes you whole get up get out do something worth the day exercise will help both mentally and physically no harm try it prayer too

Cindy B.
Cindy Black8 years ago

"Facebook depression" is informed more by sins of OMISSION than COMISSION; it's not what people are getting online, it's what they're missing that causes the problem.

Human resiliency (positive mental health) is developed through real-time, real-space interactions with people and nature, which provide MUCH more useful information than words and pictures on a page or screen could ever do. Take gardening... Could reading about gardening, or even chatting online about gardening, begin to compare with actually being out there, handling the plants, digging in the dirt, dealing with all the variables and contingencies that make up the experience? Which would be more satisfying? Which would tell you more how YOU rate as a gardener?

People, especially kids, are extremely influenced by social interactions. The only way we can define ourselves is in relation to what we know about others. But "social interactions" via networking sites are stylized and threadbare; it's like taking Vitamin C vs. eating a tomato... The synergy of full, complete nutrition is simply factored out of the equation. What really tells you about a person? What endears you to him or her? Is it words on a page, or is it the way that person sprawls over a chair, watches a passing bird, whistles under his breath, reacts to an interruption or unexpected event, hurries or dawdles, sloughs off a vexation, looks you in the eye? Useful "people skills" come from real-time, real-space exchanges, NO

Julie F.
Julie F8 years ago

good post - i feel this way sometimes - like when i see people i know getting married and having babies, and i'm not. but then i just post pictures of myself traveling/cocktailing/taking care of my animal family and i feel better about it all :)

Lesley J.
Lesley J.8 years ago

I, think FB, is Big Brother