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Facebook Depression: New Medical Condition?

(Image Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Parents of teenagers need to worry about cyber bullying and sexting,  and now they have to worry about “Facebook Depression” too.  Boston pediatrician Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, leading author of new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines, believes Facebook Depression can be detrimental to kids already dealing with low self-esteem.  With a lack of facial expressions and body language, Facebook presents an inaccurate reality that some adolescents may not feel like they measure up to.  O’Keeffe explains that Facebook is being used as a status symbol among teenagers,

“Facebook is where all the teens are hanging out now. It’s their corner store.”

However, O’Keeffe believes the benefits of social media, such as Facebook, tend to be overshadowed in situations like this.  Using Facebook can allow teenagers to connect with friends and family and exchange ideas.

The Academy guidelines warn parents about “profound psychosocial outcomes” relating to online harassment, even the possibility of suicide.  Last year, a 15-year-old Massachusetts girl  committed suicide after being harassed in person and online.

Even with these risks, using Facebook isn’t a one-way ticket to depression.  Dr. Megan Moreno from the University of Wisconsin has studied the effects of social networking amongst college students and found it to increase social correctedness feelings in well-adjusted users, but the potential is there for the opposite effect in users prone to depression.

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