The American Academy of Pediatrics said that parents should talk to their children about the emotional problems that can come with social media use. In a report, the AAP advised doctors and parents to ask teens and tweens regular questions about their social media use.
Concerns about sexting, cyberbullying and “Facebook depression” — which the report defines as “depression that develops when preteens and teens spend a great deal of time on social media sites, such as Facebook”— are on the rise as adults face the challenges of bringing up children in an increasingly connected world.
Teens who use Facebook may feel pressured by the need to be popular online as well as at school. Those already at risk for depression may feel they don’t measure up to the happy images and posts that dominate social media sites such as Facebook. Cyberbullying may further aggravate these feelings. Facebook recently put anti-bullying measures in place on its site to allow users to report the bullying to people they trust.
Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, a Boston-area pediatrician and lead author of the AAP’s new social media guidelines, said that parents and doctors are behind the curve when it comes to teaching kids how to use these sites. She told Time that this generation “emerged online before we taught them the dangers of being online.”
Dr. Megan Moreno, an adolescent specialist at the University of Wisconsin, told the Associated Press that parents should not act rashly and ban their children from using Facebook. In her research on college students, she’s found that Facebook enhances the social lives of well-adjusted children, even though it has the opposite effect on those prone to depression.
According to the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of teens use social media sites.
Parents: How do you deal with your children’s online lives?