Can too much social networking cause depression in teenagers?

A new report seems to think so

March 29, 2011, 4:50pm


It’s no question that adolescents and teenagers make up some of the biggest demographics in social networking sites. Experts agree that it actually does help them build stronger ties with their peers.

But a recent report by the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that there is also a downside to all this social networking.

They call it “Facebook depression,” and they mention adolescents and teenagers who spend excessive amounts of time on the internet as the most likely affected.

Facebook allows users to showcase their lives, from achievements to travel photos to parties. The depression creeps in, according to the report, when teenagers start comparing themselves to their friends.

Why does she have more friends than me? How come he was invited to that party and I wasn’t? How come she got a new car for her Sweet Sixteen? Why was he given that award when I worked harder for it?

These are questions teens already face in their daily lives, factor in the additional pressure of social networks with their “my-life-is-an-open-book” appeal and you’ve got yourself one troubled teen.

Experts attribute it to the fact that these sites “magnify the idea of envy and jealousy.”

One disclaimer, though. Those involved with the report still need to assess whether or not the depression is caused by too much use of Facebook or if the teens who are already depressed just tend to spend a lot more time on Facebook than their peers.

The parent’s role

With this in mind, Dr. Michael Brody, an adolescent psychiatrist, suggests that parents should be actively involved in their teen’s life, be it offline or online.

Encourage your teen to get off the internet once in awhile, he said.

It’s important that your teen understand that there should be a balance in his or her life.

Get them to actively participate in activities outside of school (and IN school as well), get them to join clubs or encourage them to get into a sport or learn to play a musical instrument.

As Brody said, he “would be worried as a parent if all my kid was doing was sitting in their room on the computer with Facebook.”

Brody goes on further by saying that it is important that parents keep an open line of communication with their teens, just as their teens enjoy a sense of openness with their friends.

Source: LiveScience