Is Facebook Causing Depression in Teens?

Jenny Erikson

sad teenIs the online social networking site Facebook causing depression in teenagers? Some researchers argue that Facebook can lead to teen depression, as happy updates and smiley pictures on their peers’ pages bombard those on the lower end of the social ladder.

Boston-area pediatrician Gwen O’Keefe warns that Facebook portrays a false reality that can be even more painful than “sitting alone in a crowded school cafeteria.” As every teen knows, there’s no worse tragedy in life than sitting in a clean, safe space to eat in solitude (until they become moms and long to eat a meal in peace). 

Technology changes and advances, but people are people. Kids have been tormenting each other since Cain killed Able because he thought his brother was showing off with his God-pleasing sacrifice. The medium may change, but the human desire to be liked and admired by others doesn’t. The kid that becomes depressed by seeing Facebook updates is the same kid that would resent hearing classmates chat in the hall about the awesome time they had at the beach over the weekend. 

Facebook doesn’t cause depression any more than guns kill people or ice cream leads to obesity. Those status updates don’t happen on their own -- they come from real people out doing real things with their lives. Technology is not to blame for depression or low self-esteem or whatever the current psychological buzzword of the day is -- the tendency to stew in animosity instead of making positive changes in one’s life is. 

Being a teenager is tough, I know. It’s some muddled place trapped between childhood and adulthood, complete with boobs that are either too big or too small, cracking voices, hair growing out of the weirdest places, and parents that totally don’t get it. Friends provide a crucial support system during the teen years, and part of that culture today is posting pictures on Facebook in the same way we used to paste them in our lockers.

The kid who hates Facebook for making him feel excluded should probably log off, go someplace he enjoys, and see if he can find any other kids his or her age with similar interests to hang out with. Then they can ‘friend’ each other online and post pictures of their awesome times together. And maybe they can sit with that loner in the cafeteria. He could probably use a friend or two.

Image via PinkStock Photos!/Flickr

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