Facebook Depression
A Major Cause of Depression Among
Adolescents & Children

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.

Effect of social networking

Long hours of social media usage is detrimental to children's emotional and social wellbeing.

Facebook is today’s youth club

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.

Some more effects of Facebook depression

  • Social isolation.
  • Feeling of “hopelessness” due to information overload.
  • May turn to risky Internet sites and blogs for “help”.
  • Try solace in substance abuse and alcoholism.
  • Get drawn in to unsafe sexual practices.
  • Aggressive and/or self destructive behaviors.
  • Loose grades at school and absenteeism from school rises.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Psychosomatic symptoms like stomach pain, sleep disturbances.
  • Anxiety disorder.
  • Narcissism.
  • Impaired ability to concentrate and focus on a particular subject.
  • Develop tendency to run into undue risk; road traffic accidents.

Role of prohibition of social media

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.

The brighter side of social media sites

  • Access to information and career options.
  • Helps keeping in touch with friends, classmates, teachers and adult mentors.
  • Social interaction teaches children to get along with different types of people.
  • Children learn to deal with various social situations.
  • They develop ability to show empathy towards a distressed person in the community.
  • Positive results of the help offered gives a good feeling and boosts self esteem.
  • Social support network is created.
  • Brings out creativity.
  • Teaches to share.
  • Appreciate others accomplishments.
  • Curb the instinct of jealousy.
  • Sets up healthy competitive spirit.

How can we prevent Facebook depression?

Inordinate social networking is harmful to child’s psych. Internet has widened our horizon of socialization. In cyber space, many contacts are just images of the unknown people.

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.

Minimize the chances of Facebook depression

  • Being vigilant of the mood changes: negative mood states like depression or irritability should arouse concern.
  • Looking for the cause of changes in the mood in child’s environment and psychosocial influences.
  • Talking to children to find out the underlying cause of mounting stress in them.
  • Overcoming all possible causes and/or likely source of depression.
  • Introducing pleasurable activities in every day routine.
  • Helping children develop competence and thus help to enhance their self-esteem.
  • Developing skills in children, which they can use to overcome the adversities.
  • Modifying children’s lifestyle by instilling discipline in their time management, such as proper school attendance, personal care, regular eating and sleeping hours, outdoor activities, exercise, study times, social networking and relaxation.
  • Sharing the daily events with supportive mentors (usually parents, teachers and pediatricians) and friends.
  • Teach media literacy for safe use of media.

Who is more prone to Facebook depression?

  • Children with poor self esteem, who wish to be in the crowd but feel shunned.
  • Inherent depressive tendency when faced with unfavorable environmental situations.
  • Impersonal nature of media can often let emotional stress go unnoticed.
  • Invasive and aggressive self advertising affects growing minds’ psyche.
  • Inappropriate content on web.
  • Envy.
  • Over ambitious with intense competitive attitude.
  • Children in bad company – either in real life or in cyber space.
  • Cyber bullies and the bullied.
  • Excessive exposure to electromagnetic field due to inordinate internet use can lead to depression.

Causes of inordinate social networking

  • Loneliness.
  • Unhappy family resulting in poor ties and support.
  • Poor social circle in real life.
  • Poorly developed outdoor games/sports.
  • Peer influence.
  • Bad company.

For related topics of interest, kindly see the right column

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Media Effects on Child Health

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Media Effects on Child Health

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Facebook depression

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Prohibition?-Not the answer

Bright side of social media

Prevention of Facebook depression

Predisposing factors

Teens Therapeutic Activity; Blogging

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