Health Watch: Teens & Facebook Depression

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – We’ve been telling you about the potential dangers of social media, now in a new report, there’s a specific warning for parents about something being called Facebook depression, that’s linked to children and teenagers who use social media. 

Researchers disagree on whether the depression already exists or if it’s being caused by Facebook.  But they agree parents and doctors need to be aware. It’s part of the American Academy of Pediatrics new social media guidelines.

At her pediatric check up, 11-year-old Melissa Martinez gets her height and weight checked. And then her doctor does a social media check up. This is something that all pediatricians are being urged to do, talk about Facebook and Twitter with patients.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a new clinical report citing a 2009 statistic that more than half of all teens log on to social media more than once a day.

Dr. Diane Tenaka, a Pediatrician, warns about sexting, cyber-bullying and posting inappropriate pictures.

“It may have sounded like a fun idea funny cute at 17, but then at 30 do you really want that picture coming back to haunt you?  Maybe an employer sees it,” said Dr. Tenaka.

The report also warns about something called Facebook depression. Kids may feel bad if they don’t have enough friends on the site or their status updates aren’t busy enough.

The new guidelines say parents need to talk to their kids about social media, and be better educated themselves.

That’s just what Melissa’s parents are doing. Her mom says both kids were surprised to find out their dad was monitoring the websites they visited.

“They were shocked that he really checked, and I told them you’re not going to be playing with this stuff. We need to know what you are doing on the computer,” said Mercedes Martinez, Melissa’s mother.

Experts say the best approach is open communication and supervision. It’s also important to talk to children about managing their time online, so it doesn’t affect their sleep, homework or exercise routines.
 
Reported by Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3

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