As we all know, Facebook has become an internet phenomenon. With 1 Billion active users, a movie under its belt, Facebook has become a massive part of our every day lives with many of us failing not to log on to the site on a daily basis. Whether you like to admit it or not, it’s great for socialising with your friend’s online, expressing your thoughts, uploading photos and videos and even reuniting long lost family members, and is undoubtedly a runaway success. But with all the good, comes all the bad, which means Facebook has a lot to answer for too. I’m not just talking about cyber bulling; Facebook has caused another questionable problem: Facebook Depression.
Sounds a bit unbelievable doesn’t it? How can someone let Facebook depress them? Gwenn O’Keeffe, a child doctor and lead author of new social media guidelines for the American Academy of Paediatrics, explains that researchers are divided as to whether Facebook Depression is an extension of emotions felt in other circumstances, or a distinct condition linked with using the site. She singles out unique aspects of Facebook that can make it a particularly tough social landscape to navigate for young people who are already dealing with low self-esteem.
Among these are the numbers of ‘friends’ held by fellow users, their status updates and the many photos present of happy people appearing to have a great time. All of which, according to Dr O’Keeffe, can make some teenagers and children feel worse if they think they don’t measure up. She suggests the experience can be more painful than sitting alone in a crowded school canteen, or other real-life encounters that can make children feel down. Facebook provides a skewed view of what is really going on, Dr O’Keeffe continues, because there is no way to see facial expressions or read body language to provide context when it comes to the web.
‘It’s like a big popularity contest – who can get the most friend requests or get the most pictures tagged,’ confirmed one teenager, 16-year-old Chicago high-school student – and frequent Facebook user – Abby Abolt. The guidelines Dr O’Keeffe has laid out urge doctors to encourage parents to talk with their children about their internet use and to be aware of Facebook depression, cyber-bullying, sexting and other online risks.
Personally I don’t think I’d let something like Facebook make me depressed. After all it’s just a website and if Facebook makes you feel that way, well then it’s probably best to just deactivate it. I’m not a huge fan of the site anyway, over the last couple of months I’ve noticed myself not using it as much as I used to. The constant layout changes are getting a bit annoying as well and in a way, the site has lost its appeal; it isn’t a new and exciting thing to use anymore, and not everyone is rushing home to use it the way we all used to.
So what do you think? Do you think Facebook is contributing to young people feeling unpopular? Is it damaging our self-esteem? Let me know what your views are!