As it turns out, spending time on Facebook and other social media sites may be doing you more harm than the mere waste of a few hours. Experts are increasingly recognizing the link between time spent on social networking platforms and the depressive state.
According to a new study by the University of Leeds, in the U.K., the excessive use of internet is linked to an increased rate of self-reporting of depression and feeling “down in the dumps”. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued new guidelines to help parents and practitioners alike protect kids and teens from the depression that could arise from excessive use of social networking sites.
This should generally come as no surprise to anyone. Social media and networking create isolation behind a monitor and keyboard. The skills acquired and relationships built on social media do not necessarily translate into a real life success. One might be left, then, with a successful, popular, ‘virtual’ persona and a more boring real-life alternative. Quite depressing, isn’t it?
Social Media platforms also set the scene for a highly competitive lifestyle. You see your friends’ vacation pictures, where they celebrated their wedding anniversary, all the awards their kids received and even the latest gadgets they bought – and you cannot help but compare the lives of the coolest and most blessed with your own. This can lead to ‘Facebook depression’.
The picture is even bleaker for tweens and teens. Social acceptance and belonging are very important for their self esteem and overall happiness. A teen who cannot gather enough Facebook friends, or tweeter followers, views him/herself as a social outcast. Kids viewed by their peers as social misfits are also commonly made fun of on social media. This ‘cyberbullying’ is very common and places the teenager at a significant risk of depression.
Whether adult or child, a person suffering from internet-related depression may resort to risky, online behavior such as online gaming websites or blogs promoting substance abuse and pornographic materials. Spending longer periods of time on the internet, the person also develops an internet addiction.