March 30, 2011

ARTICLES: "Facebook Depression" Hits Children

Doctors need to start asking children about their social media use to screen for so-called "Facebook depression," according to the country's largest pediatrics group, drawing attention to a potential dark side of social networking.

"A large part of this generation's social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cell phones,” said Gwenn O'Keeffe, co-author of the AAP report. "Parents need to understand these technologies so they can relate to their children's online world -- and comfortably parent in that world."

"Facebook Depression” is said to arise from a failure to integrate into the social networking world that's become central in kid's lives. The symptoms are similar to classic depression, including changes to sleep patterns and eating habits, mood swings, and a sense of social isolation.

As younger children become more involved with social media, it raises a host of developmental questions that are just beginning to be explored. The impersonal nature of the medium enables bullying that has led to suicides, and studies have linked Facebook usage with lower grades and eating disorders. Children may also be exposed to inappropriate content and invasive advertising.

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