Well, no . . . but for those who already deal with depression or self-esteem issues, Facebook can encourage depression. This is according to Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, a Boston-area pediatrician and lead author of social media guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
How so? Consider these Facebook features:
- Friends’ tallies of all their friends
- Status updates
- Photos of happy-looking people having fun
All this information is skewed, because it doesn’t paint a real picture. Nevertheless, for some students, it can make them feel like they don’t measure up. For a student who already feels like she doesn’t have many friends or feels like her life is boring, the way people present themselves on Facebook could make her feel less important or exciting. And of course, there is the old problem of people posting judgmental or rude comments. Such comments can be especially hurtful.
This is not an argument for avoiding Facebook! Dr. Megan Moreno, a University of Wisconsin adolescent medicine specialist, has studied social networking among students. She says that sites like Facebook can actually enhance social connectedness among well-adjusted kids.
So where does that leave us, parents? In the same place we should be with so many issues: in touch with our own kids! Be aware of these issues, but also be keenly aware of what is going on in the life of your own teenager.
How have you seen sites like Facebook help or hinder your own teenager’s attitudes or social involvement?