Teenage Facebook Depression and Internet Addiction: The Quest to Be Cool

Facebook depression is  real and could be a clinical term someday according to a new American Academy of Pediatric clinical report. As the report explains, “Researchers have proposed a new phenomenon called “Facebook depression,” defined as depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression.” The quest to be cool extends far beyond who sits where at the cafeteria table.

The clinical report suggests it is now the role of the doctors to help parents and teens.  “Pediatricians are in a unique position to educate families about both the complexities of the digital world and the challenging social and health issues that online youth experience by encouraging families to face the core issues of bullying, popularity and status, depression and social anxiety, risk-taking and sexual development.”

Teens and Internet Addiction

While some parents are concerned their teens may get hooked on drugs or alcohol, another growing concern for parents is teenage internet addiction. A new study confirms parents have a right to worry, because there are many health and social issues for young people who spend too much time online. In fact, a new study found prolonged internet use to be linked to obesity, social isolation, skipping meals, sleeping problems, and developing depression and stressOver 6%, or 62 teenagers, identified themselves as “pathological” users. After nine months, 84 of the teens were found to be clinically depressed. The pathological Web users were more than twice as likely to develop depression than the “normal” users. Results are published in Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

Internet Addiction Study Linked to Depression in Adults

It may turn out that investing all that time on Facebook and blogging might have adverse affects for adults too.  In a recent study out of the UK and published in the Journal of Psycopathology, it was revealed that excessive internet usage may be linked to depression. This new form of “internet addiction” may be adversely affecting young people (ages 16 and up) for the escapism that the internet allows. In a survey of 1,319 people aged 16 to 51, about 220 were classified as “Internet addicted”, which is considered being online to the point where it affects your daily activities. The term internet addiction is not a recognized as a clinical mental disorder, but some researchers are still working on .

By replacing actual human interaction with online chats, and gaming, people may become more and more cut off from their community. In turn, this social isolation may contribute to depression. People that are obsessed with their online world, may choose surfing the web over sleep, and use the internet as a means to escape. Excessive time online can cause numerous work, school, health and financial problems.  Additionally, some studies show internet addicts have a higher propensity for other types of addictions such as gambling, cybersex, online shopping and alcoholism.

What is Cyberbullying?

Being a bully back in the day used to be simpler. A big kid cornered someone smaller than himself and demanded their lunch money. With the advent of cell phones, instant messaging and social networks such as Facebook, a new form of intimidation and harassment called cyberbullying has entered the teen landscape.

A pair of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire recently released a fact sheet based on research involving about 2,000 randomly selected middle-school students from one of the largest school districts in the country. Sameer Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center found that 30 percent of middle school students were victims of at least one form of cyberbullying two or more times in the past month and 22 percent of students admitted to engaging in at least one type of cyberbullying in the past 30 days.

What Can Parents Do?

Talk to your kids and keep lines of communication open. A new study suggests that by sharing the video game experience with your teenage daughter, you’re actually improving your relationship with her and boosting her self-esteem. That’s right Mom and Dad, instead of restricting the amount of time you let your teen play video games, perhaps you should just join them.

The study found parents who spent quality one-on-one time with their adolescents playing video games enjoyed more open lines of communication with their kids.

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  • As I approach 25 years of age, my wife and I have begun the extremely preliminary discussions of having a child within the next 4-6 years. And as someone who works in social media, who has seen what Facebook can do and mean to people, and now the studies behind it, I definitely feel like I need to have a “game plan” of sort prepared to help guide my child in proper discretion of their social network use.

    I’d by no means deprive my child of their “online indulgence”, as I was a kid using message boards, MySpace, and AOL chatrooms with my friends in middle school, all in a very reasonable manner. But it’s definitely as issue that cannot go unchecked, as it has the potential to spiral out of control.

    Awesome, insightful article. Thanks for sharing!

  • Do notg allow or enable your kids to become internet, facebook junkies. It now productive and even gets one fired at work. Doing so, will invite your kids to become unproductive and live with you much, much longer than planned.

  • Do not enable your children with unbridled access to social networking. Let the high school drama end at school and not into your family home with continued (non productive) social disorder. Do so, will likely cause your children stress, unemployement and undue anxiety with having to be popular. If your kids are going to be gaming, do it together and send them to College to be a drone pilot. Otherwise, time spent is most time wasted when social networking for anything other than gainful employment and self improvement.

  • Honestly you can’t blame the kids back before the internet kids were outside and now since the internet everyone is now inside the house on the computer, the key is to keep your child active outside of the social media so they can unplug real social engagement is needed from time to time.

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