Doctors Warn About Pitfalls of Social Networks

Doctors Warn About Pitfalls of Social Networks

Young people with esteem issues could develop “Facebook depression.”

Published March 30, 2011

Could the popular social site Facebook— with all of its tagging, posting and updating joys—be causing deeper emotional problems to develop in some teens?

Researchers at the American Academy of Pediatrics believe so, and in its social media guidelines posted online Monday, they warned parents that certain aspects of the site could lead to “Facebook Depression.”

Since Facebook often acts as a virtual extension of the high school social landscape, young people who see their friends’ happy statuses and photos of them having fun might feel worse about their own lives, especially if they already suffer from low self-esteem. "Feeling 'left out' on Facebook could potentially be even worse than being a real life outcast because the site offers a distorted view of reality," said one of the authors, Dr. Gwenn O'Keeffe.

Parents are advised to talk to their kids about cyberbullying, sexting and other risks online. THey are encouraged to ask such questions as: What did you write on Facebook today? Any new chats recently? Anyone text you today?

The guidelines don’t totally lambast social networks, noting that they can often improve technical and communication skills in youth. But with research showing that 22 percent of youth get online 10 times a day, parents do need to be more aware.

"Parents need to understand these technologies so they can relate to their children's online world—and comfortably parent in that world," O’Keeffe said.

 

(Photo:  Facebook)

Written by Hortense M. Barber

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