Facebook Depression is a condition that can affect children, teens, and even adults who obsess over the online social media site. It has yet to be determined, however, whether Facebook Depression is an extension of clinical depression that many of these same individuals would experience anyway, or a unique condition that is only apparent when they use the popular social networking site.
Depression of a clinical nature does not come and go based on high-tech success or popularity. Clinical depression often remains with a person for his or her entire life. However, new studies of adolescents are beginning to show that extensive time spent using Facebook may lead to, and amplify, depression.
There are a variety of distinct aspects of Facebook that can make it a particularly challenging social environment to navigate for children, teens, and adults who are already coping with poor self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. Facebook pages can lead some individuals to feel even worse than they already do and can cause anxiety if they think they don't measure up. If they see the number of "friends" someone else has, status changes, and happy-go-lucky photos, this can have a devastating impact on an individual's self-worth, especially if it is already fragile. Facebook provides a skewed view of what's really going on in the world and this can lead to the development of a comparison-based identity. Facebook Depression sets in when the individual actually develops a belief that other people are living lives that are better, happier, and more fulfilling than their own - and that other people are more socially acceptable and desirable.
According to Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, people have a basic drive to develop healthy self-esteem and a desire to be accepted and valued by others. People need to have activities they can engage in to attain recognition, to allow themselves to have a sense of contribution, and to develop a sense of innate value. When this need is not fulfilled, whether it is in a profession, hobby or social activity, a person may suffer from low self-esteem and this can ultimately lead to depression.
Recently, the American Psychiatric Association voted to include Internet Addiction (extensive use of Facebook is only one form of this) in the appendix of the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-V). Whether Internet Addiction will someday merit inclusion in the primary body of the DSM has yet to be seen, but the potential damaging effects of Facebook and depression are all too real today.
We encourage parents to talk with their children about online use and to be aware of Facebook Depression (as well as Cyberbullying, Sexting, and other online risks). Because children and teens between the ages of 8 and 18 engage in an average of seven or more hours of electronic activity daily, it is important to be aware that online harassment can lead to devastating psychosocial outcomes including depression and, worst of all, suicide.
If your child is already a member of Facebook, don't let Facebook Depression destroy his or her precious and fragile self-esteem. Let them see their real value and importance apart from the number of friends they have on Facebook. Make certain that Facebook is not the measure they use to judge their lives. Help them keep in touch with their own happiness and self-worth, rather than comparing themselves with what their "friends" on Facebook have.
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If you or someone you know would benefit from Facebook Depression therapy and counseling, please contact Foundations Counseling in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Windsor to arrange a free consultation.