Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently warned that there are potential harms linked with teen social media usage? Did you also know that teens that already struggle with low self-esteem can be triggered into Facebook depression?  It is important that if you are parent of a teenager that you know what to look for if your teen has already experienced challenges with comparing themselves to their peers.

Here are five warning signs to look for in your teen if you are concerned that Facebook has impacted their mood potentially causing depression:

1 – Obsession: The teen spends large amounts of time talking and thinking about their Facebook activity.

2 – Social Isolation: The teen spends more time alone and engaging in online activity rather than spending face to face time with their friends.

3 – Academic performance change: The teen has gotten lower grades and has spent less time dedicated to studying.

4 – Physical appearance/health decline: You have noticed that your teen is more fatigued than usual or they appear to have a loss of energy nearly every day.

5 – Significant mood change over a short period of time: Your teen appears sad or moody more frequently than they have in the past.
What Parents Can Do

1. It is important to look at the person as a whole to see if there are other things going on in their lives that is contributing to the depression or low self-esteem.

2.  The key is COMMUNICATION!  Parents need to be connected with their children to talk about what may seem real on-line and what is real in life.  People can inflate their number of friends by either accepting everyone that asks or trying to be friends with people they hardly know just to have a larger number.

3. Parents can help their children to connect in healthy relationships and activities to develop personal friendships.  Also, monitoring time online is important so young people are not consumed with the Internet in a way that keeps them from family, social activities, sports, etc.

4. Empathize with them!  Don’t put them down just because it is online.  Parents can help their teens learn to deal with disappointments socially that are not limited to Facebook.  There are times that they are not invited to a party or they are left out of a friendship whether it is on Facebook or in our everyday life.  The key is helping them to learn to handle this in a healthy way.

5. It is important to make sure your teen learns the real dangers of the Internet, cyberbullying, stalkers/predators, sexting, etc.

It is important to consider that Facebook does not cause depression in teenagers, however, if a teen is already struggling with low self-esteem, lack of social skills and has had previous depression, it can be a contributing factor to triggering current depression.  Facebook can be a positive vehicle to connect with friends and families when used appropriately.


Author: Janie Lacy

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