Participating in social media sites like Facebook could increase your teen's depression, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which will appear in the April issue of Pediatrics.
Seeing one's friends posting a constant stream of happy, boasting status updates and photos could make teens feel worse about themselves because they are receiving a skewed view of what is going on in their peers' lives. Social media sites may also contribute to depression by opening up new avenues for bullying and peer pressure. Where in the past these activities might have been limited to the school environment, they can now literally occur anywhere that a teen has access to a computer or cell phone.
The authors do note that social media can also have positive effects because they can "enhance communication, facilitate social interaction and help develop technical skills." They can also help students locate volunteer opportunities and augment their classroom learning.
This phenomenon of Facebook depression is important, according to the AAP, because teens are spending more time than ever on social media sites. According to recent statistics:
- 22% of teens log onto their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day.
- More than half of teens log on at least once a day.
- 75% of teens have cell phones, with 25% of those teens using them for social media, 54% for texting and 24% for instant messaging.
The AAP recommends the follow steps for concerned parents:
- Talk to your children about the issues that teens may face online, such as bullying and sexting.
- Educate yourself about the technologies that your children are using.
- Develop a family online-use plan which emphasizes good citizenship and healthy behavior.
- Actively supervise your child's online activities rather than relying on software to do it for you.