The Pediatrics fraternity has now proclaimed Facebook depression as one of the many faces of childhood depression. It is one of the most worrisome child health issues of recent times. 1 in 5 adolescents suffers from teenage depression. Indeed, all of it cannot be attributed to social media usage by the young.
Nevertheless, studies have shown that 25 percent of children who regularly engage in social networking develop the symptoms suggestive of clinical depression. Facebook is the world’s most popular site for social networking and so it is named as “Facebook Depression”.
Over the last decade, interaction and entertainment on social media has grown exponentially among teenagers. Though the newly discovered cause of teenage depression is named after Facebook, there are many more portals to social networking that entice the tweens and the teens. Most commonly known are MySpace and Twitter; gaming sites and virtual worlds such as Club Penguin, Second Life and the Sims; video sites such as YouTube; and blogs.
More than 75 percent of teenagers and middle childhood children have an unlimited excess to internet. The privacy of personal laptop, i-pad and/or high-tech cell phones further gives them the convenience to indulge into unrestrained activities in the cyber space.
Related statistics show that about 22 percent of teens log on to social media sites more than ten times a day. This inordinate social networking precipitates clinical Facebook depression among young children who may already be facing stress due to unfavorable environmental influences.
Most parents are caught unaware when their child presents with signs of depression. Preoccupied in their demanding daily schedule, parents are unable to track teens’ interaction with their newly acquired social circle in the cyberspace.
As a parent myself, I think it is almost next to impossible to track children’s cyberspace activities. It is certainly not like keeping an eye on ones child while he/she is playing out in the yard in a well defined group of friends.
Long hours of social media usage is detrimental to children's emotional and social wellbeing.
It is on the Facebook like social media where youths today post their accomplishments and exhibit beautiful pictures. It has an easy access and is open 24 hours 7 days a week. Everyone there seems to be having a gala time.
Competitive instinct of youth is thus ignited and inquisitiveness is aroused. Children peep in to each others personal life, the glamorized presentation of manipulated truth.
Yes, what comes on Facebook is not all real. No one advertises their dirty linen, short comings and set backs to the public and social networking is public, where nothing remains a secret.
Jealousy takes the better of them. Each one starts posting more and more information about oneself with an intention to impress.
An unhealthy self absorption dominates the disturbed psyche, which distorts teens’ sense of self.
Popularity among the peers is desired by all. During the formative years, the importance of peer acceptance is crucial for optimal development of high self esteem. Therefore, on Facebook, there is competition even for number of friends an individual has and this can contribute to the causes of Facebook depression.
Facebook is a place which gives teenagers unhindered opportunity to advertise themselves round the clock. Their ability to feel empathy towards others gets blunted.
Facebook walls get loaded with amazing creative skills that jubilates ones superiority over the other, while hiding the traumatized self-esteem.
Facebook depression thus sets in and the seeds of cyber bullying are sowed.
Over indulgence in social media activities interferes with real life relationships. Heart broken with soured relationship the youths start stalking their ex. partner, but it only leads to more depression and isolation.
Emotionally traumatized teenagers then start craving for peer acceptance, company and admiration. To attract attention they give in to sexting. Consequently, the teenagers are engulfed by Facebook depression in addition to the other ill effects associated with sexting activities.
Can prohibition of social media prevent Facebook depression?
No, it can not. Imposed prohibition triggers desire and curiosity. Children will then either participate in social networking on the sly or rebel against the ban. Both would disrupt parent-child relationship, which in turn would raise insecurity, social maladjustment, and eventually clinical depression in the young. So, do not completely prohibit social networking.
Social media have become an integral part of modern teen culture. Not having an account in Facebook in present times, is a cause of embarrassment for today's teenagers. The peer group scoffing traumatizes their self-concept and imperils healthy personality development.
Moderation of lifestyle with high central values should be the part of child rearing. Permissive parenting leads to poor self-regulating capacity and can result in Facebook depression in face of high efficiency technology at the fingertips.
Discipline of safe media usage needs to be ingrained in children. Media education should be imparted with open mindedness and strong psychological support towards modern youth culture.
All three major influences on children, parents, teachers and pediatricians, need to understand the expanding horizon of tweens’ and teens’ social network and the potential it has to influence their psychosocial development , emotional wellbeing, and self esteem.
All lines of communication with children should be kept open in effort to steal in to the busy social schedule the teenagers have online.
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