‘Facebook depression’ could affect teens, doctors warn

28 Mar 2011

Teens who obsess over social networking site Facebook may be at risk of developing ‘Facebook depression’, a group of doctors in the US has warned.

While researchers aren’t positive whether the condition is an extension of depression teens already feel in other situations or if it’s a condition linked specifically with using Facebook, there are unique aspects of Facebook that can further affect teenagers with low self-esteem.

The number of friends a person has on their Facebook profile, a steady stream of status updates and posted pictures of peers looking like they’re having a grand old time can make some youths feel even worse if they believe they already don’t measure up, said Boston-area pediatrician Gwenn O’Keeffe, who is also the lead author of new American Academy of Paediatrics social media guidelines.

Facebook, however, said O’Keeffe, provides a skewed view of reality. Online, context is lacking, as there’s no way to pick up on facial expressions or body language.

The social media guidelines urge doctors to encourage parents to talk with their children about internet usage and online safety.