'Facebook depression' is the latest warning issued by doctors against social networking sites that pose an emotional danger to troubled teenagers.
Although researchers debate on whether the depression has already existed in susceptible children, and just gets worse with more negative triggers; or, whether it is a condition that is newly triggered off by online networks, it is undeniable that Facebook is not an easy place for emotionally at-risk youngsters.
According to Dr Gwenn O'Keeffe, lead author of new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines, a false reality is presented through friend tallies, status updates and happy pictures of popular peers. To young people who may be yearning for social popularity, this may make them feel all the more depressed. They do not realize that the image created in Facebook may not be true, or as O'Keefe says, that 'it is a skewed view of life.'
Another study headed by Dr. Joanne Davila at Stony Brook University concludes that texting, email and time spent on social networking sites can worsen teens' moods and make them worry obsessively over issues instead of moving past them.
Dr. Megan Moreno, an adolescent medicine specialist at the University of Wisconsin, who has studied online social networking among college students, explained further that using Facebook can enhance feelings of social connectedness among well-adjusted kids, but have just a contrary effect on young people inclined to be depressed.
Young people who are emotionally mature and socially stable have also commented in interviews that while the networking site did not upset them, they could understand how it could stress out many, for it is like a big popularity contest.
Cyberbullying, online harassment and other risks sometimes make a depressed young person take the extreme step out through suicide. The social media guidelines published in Pediatrics
recommend that parents talk to their young children and help them to know about online risks and Facebook depression so that they would be better prepared to handle the problem.