Teen depression is a serious issue, so when the American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) published its report in March 2011 about the association of social media site usage with depression it caused a few ripples. The study, entitled ‘The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents & Families’ makes explicit reference to “Facebook depression” and defines this as, "depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook, and then begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression,"
At the time the report drew some fairly prompt responses from several experts who immediately disputed the notion of a ‘Facebook depression’. For example, Tristan Gorrindo, MD and Eugene V. Beresin, MD stated that, “as child psychiatrists, what concerns us is that there is no scientific study of this diagnosis, nor are there criteria for how this diagnosis is made.”
Various other studies have warned of an association between social media site with increased anxieties and insecurities on the part of some users. It is however a real chicken-and-egg issue and to claim that social media sites are “a cause” of certain mental health issues is to ignore the complex relationship between social media and its many users.
The most recent study, published online July 9 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, claims to overturn previous concerns by stating there is no scientific evidence for a significant association between social-media use and the probability of depression. According to the authors, Lauren Jelechick and Dr. Megan Moreno, their findings represent the first real scientific evidence examining the issue. Using real-time assessment of internet activity matched with clinically validated screening for depression, the researchers surveyed 190 students between the ages of 18 to 23 over a seven day period. Survey volunteers were found to be on Facebook for over half of their online activities.
The authors hope their findings will be of use to clinicians who, “may prematurely alarm parents about social-media use and depression risks.” Dr. Moreno, herself a pediatrician, suggests parents need to consider social media use in the context of the entire life of their children. There is little cause for concern, she suggests, if other indicators such as school work and other relationships haven’t changed. Media usage should be a balanced part of life.
University of Wisconsin-Madison (2012, July 9). Facebook use leads to depression? No, says study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 11, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2012/07/120709231123.htm