Are Social Networking Sites Causing Depression?
Young Social Networking Users May Be At Risk
So Many Chat Rooms and Social Networking Sites to Choose From
A New Wave of Depression
Are you or someone close to you showing signs of being depressed?
- Can't sleep or sleep too much of the time?
- Feel hopeless, that there is no joy in life?
- Have trouble concentrating
- Constantly view events through negative eyes?
- Have lost your appetite, or find you can not stop eating?
- More prone to aggressive behaviour and feel irritable a lot of the time?
- Turning to alcohol or drugs to numb your feelings?
Evidence now suggests that users of social networking sites such as facebook and myspace are susceptible to and showing signs of depression. But more importantly those most susceptible to this fall into the younger age groups.
More and more we see new mental conditions being talked about and discarded at first, as being a phase or fad created to get attention. And before too long it has been clinically diagnosed as "real" and given a name, a source, a pill or treatment and a place in the medical journals.
Children, teens and young adults who use social networking sites will obviously find themselves confronting issues that once were reserved to the schoolyard. There is immense pressure from their peers to even have an account with these sites, because if they don't then they are just not cool. Then they can be be ridiculed for not having the right "type" of friends or not enough. Even if they are not teased about their inadequate number of friends, they can see at any time just how more popular others seem to be compared to themselves.
Pressure, pressure and more pressure.
To "fit in" is a constant worry for our young and sometimes not so young. Almost every television programme and radio station tells us to follow them on facebook or twitter, we can find out more easily than a phone call what our friends are doing. We have instant news and weather reports at our fingertips often sourced thru these channels. If we don't access at least one of them we fear we won't be "keeping up" with our friends. So perhaps this new depression is not just reserved for our young.
Not All Bad
We are all susceptible to depression. However there are a few things we can put in place to safeguard ourselves and children.
Of course there is always the good versus the bad, light versus the dark. I love facebook and don't care at all how I measure against the numbers of friends my friends have, but I am an adult and have long since given up worrying what others think of me. I am more concerned with how I measure up to my own core values. But trying to convince a teenager that their friends or lack of them doesn't (or shouldn't) define who they are is probably pointless. I enjoy the interaction with my widespread family and seeing pictures of them I otherwise would not see, talking on live chat is a lot cheaper than overseas phonecalls so for me it works really well.
My daughter who is in her 20's also loves the ability to hook up with her friends and know what they are doing socially, she has even used this avenue to sell to her friends and acquaintances, items she no longer has a use for. She even found someone to move into her spare room and sold a kitten. She never posts anything too personal on her wall and constantly checks her privacy settings. Teenagers need to be mindful of these things, but sometimes perhaps they need to learn the hard way. Some of them I imagine will get over any hurt easily but will have learned a valuable lesson, but a lot of them can be left with real emotional issues that may need professional help in overcoming.
If you, my reader, are a teen or know of a teen who is considering joining a social networking site, there are a number of things you might like to consider.
- Ask yourself how important it is for you to communicate with your friends, outside of the usual ways you might already have. Such as school, sport, parties, phonecalls, texting and email. There are a lot of other ways when you really think about it.
- How important is it for you to network in this way just because your friends are?
- Do you worry that your friends tease you for not networking? How does that make you feel? and do you think you would fix that problem by joining a site such as facebook? Or would that just give them another avenue in which to tease you about other things?
You could try making a list of the good/bad you think there might be for you joining a site.
Talk to someone you trust, someone who uses these sites, and ask for their opinion.
If you decide that networking is right for you don't feel you have to let all you friends know what you are doing and what you are thinking and be mindful of comments you make. Don't accept every potential friend.
Employers or future employers can look you up so be mindful of the image you present. Don't put an inappropriate avatar or image of yourself on there. I know it is sad but just about all of us judge a book by its cover especially when we don't know what the story is all about. Preserve your identity. This might be someones first impression of you.
- Don't forget to check your privacy settings or get someone else to show you how.
- Don't participate in hurtful discussions about others
- Don't swear (well not in excess) and you should learn the abbreviations (digispeak) just in case you don't already text on your mobile.
- Don't obsess over it. It can be addictive. Remember nothing beats actually spending time with your friends.