Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Doctors Warning: Facebook Depression

ROCKWALL, TEXAS— Facebook users are everywhere--with 22% of teenagers logging onto Facebook more than 10 times a day.

Nicolette Ramirez checks in about 7 times a day and spends at least 2 hours online keeping up with her more than 300 friends.

"Just the other night I was on it for like three hours and I didn't go to sleep until like 1:00 a.m." Nicolette said. "I have to get up at like 5:00."

Nicolette isn't depressed but she is tired--and pediatrician Rana Pascoe of Pediatric and Adolescent Specialists of Rockwall, TX said not enough sleep can lead to depression--but usually kids get upset the most when someone posts something negative about them on Facebook.

For kids with poor self esteem--it can be devastating.

"Sometimes just even their status, if they are involved with someone or not involved with someone or I'm unfriending people, you know I'm mad at you so I'm going to unfriend you so that can lead to hurt feelings," Dr. Pascoe said. "Especially for younger kids."

Nicolette even has a Facebook app on her Smarthphone--which she checked at school all the time.

She admits her grades have suffered--and so is she now that her mom made her delete the app from her phone.

"I was using it a lot," Nicolette said. "I wasn't even doing my work at all. I would just be on it the whole time."

Experts say social networking sites can give kids the false illusion that everyone is having a good time but them--online there is no way to see facial expressions or body language and that can lead to hurt feelings. Nicolette said it can even lead to a fight.

"My friend got into a fight over something that was said over Facebook because they were talking back and forth between each other and met up and fought."

Experts advise parents to keep up with new technology and their kid's social networking skills--and families also need to have an online use plan.

Dr. Pascoe does and she tells parents they should do the same.

"I encourage parents and I do it at my house," Dr. Pascoe said. "I have my kids show me their Facebook page periodically, I make like random checks, I say let's see what you've got on here."

As for Nicolette--she admits her grades and lack of sleep aren't all the fault of Facebook.

"No," Nicolette said. "Because I have the option not to use it as much."
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