Feature

Health scare of the week: ‘Facebook depression’

A report by the American Academy of Pediatrics says that doctors and parents need to wake up to how social media affects children.

When pediatricians take a child’s medical history, they need to ask, “Are you on Facebook?” That’s one recommendation from a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which says that doctors and parents need to wake up to how social media affects children. “Kids can be insecure in general,” report author Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe tells LiveScience.com, “and Facebook can heighten those anxieties to a huge degree.” Along with cyberbullying, researchers have identified the problem of “Facebook depression,” which arises when children have their “friend requests” rejected and sees photos of classmates having fun without them. Such experiences can lead to “profound psychosocial outcomes,” including suicide, the report says. O’Keeffe says parents should help their preschool kids explore the Internet and begin discussing online situations as soon as possible. It’s vital that adults understand the technology kids are using, she adds, “so they can set appropriate limits.”

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