Dr. Elise Greene
How Can We Reduce the Risk of “Facebook Depression?”
Have you ever had the feeling that you were trapped by social media accounts with the fact that you needed to check them every two minutes? Many people feel this urge to check their social media accounts multiple times a day. This can be identified as “Facebook depression.” This type of depression pertains to all social media accounts even though it identifies to Facebook specifically. This epidemic has been seen more and more often as social media accounts have become more popular. To help this epidemic from becoming worst than what it is, I would suggest having teachers educate students and parents on the dangers of using social media accounts, and have them focus mostly on “Facebook depression.”
First, I want to explain to you what exactly “Facebook depression” is. “Facebook depression” is defined as a, “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” (O’keeffe and Clarke-Pearson 800-804). It is a scary thought to think that something as simple as social media can cause someone to go into a depression. But, people fail to realize that social media accounts contain so many ways that someone can be bullied, attacked, and forced into this depression. Families fail to see that, “preadolescents and adolescents who suffer from Facebook depression are at risk for social isolation and sometimes turn to risky Internet sites and blogs for “help” that may promote substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, or aggressive or self-destructive behaviors,” (O’keeffe and Clarke-Pearson 800-804). These types of dangerous moves using Internet sites that come from “Facebook depression” are something that needs to be taught for students to avoid when they are using their social media accounts.
Do you ever compare yourself to other people on social media accounts? Do you ever ask questions like, how come this person is able to go on these fancy vacations all the time, while I barely have money to even pay for dinner? People have thoughts like this all the time while they are looking through their social media accounts. An issue with social media accounts is the fact that “Facebook depression” can be caused from comparing yourself to others on their social media accounts. There has been research done on this topic and it has found that, “making upward social comparisons, seeing oneself as inferior to others, are associated with negative health outcomes, such as greater depressive symptoms, lower self-esteem, and negative self-evaluations,” (Steers 703). This is something that teachers can help students avoid doing by teaching them the dangers of comparing yourself to others on social media accounts. To teach this, you could find videos on the internet that show situations like these and what the students should have done to avoid the situation. There are a lot of people out in the world that posts lots of pictures and posts to make themselves look superior to others, but they might be trying to hide something. So, to compare yourself to someone that might be doing this would only cause issues for yourself in the long run.
Now you may have a lot of friends on your social media accounts, but how many of them are actually your friends? Do you know why you have so many friends on social media accounts, but not so many friends in person? There is a reason for this, and it is so that we use social media accounts to make ourselves seem more popular than what we actually are. This goes back to the comparison problem that comes with social media accounts. The more friends that you have the more likely you are to compare yourself to someone throughout all of those “friends.” Blease has come up with a list that causes people to be more susceptible to depression which is, “1. They have more online ‘friends’; 2. The greater the time spent reading updates from this wide pool of friends; 3. The more frequently the user reads these updates; and 4. The content of the updates tends to a bragging nature; … 5. Attractive female images will command the greatest attention,” (Blease 9-10). This is something that can be taught to students to help them know what to avoid when using their social media accounts to avoid “Facebook depression.”
This is an issue that needs to be addressed throughout the school systems. A way to implement this into the classroom is to have all students take a home economics class that will include a section that will teach students how to use social media and the dangers of using social media accounts. Our teachers will have to go to a training session to learn how to use social media accounts and how to identify the dangers of using social media accounts. If possible, the schools should have someone who specializes in these areas so that they can come into classrooms and give presentations at the beginning of every year to classes on the dangers of social media accounts. If the school does not have a home economics class, they can include this education on social media accounts into their bullying programs. Bullying is something that can cause depression just like how “Facebook depression” is caused. You could blend the programs together so that there are not complaints about there not being enough time in the school day to teach these issues.
Another way to help with this issue is to teach the parents how to make sure that their children are aware of the dangers that come with social media accounts. There is a website that is called kidshealth.org that explains the good things and the bad things that come from social media accounts that are meant for parents, that the school could suggest to the parents to use with their own children. To implement this with the parents you can have the teachers show their parents on back to school nights where the teacher can inform the parents of the information on the website, so that the parents are able to teach their children the information.
Some people may oppose these arguments and believe that these dangers are made up and do not believe that they should be implemented into school systems. They think that schools do not have the time to waste on something like social media accounts dangers. They might say that in their research done, they have seen that there is, “no direct association between Facebook use and depression,” (Tandoc 144). The article also states that if someone is a frequent Facebook user, then they are not likely to become depressed from the time they spend on the website.
This may be true that there is no real correlation that if someone uses Facebook frequently that they will not become depressed from it. But within that same article, it states that, “heavy Facebook users have higher levels of Facebook envy than light users,” (Tandoc 144). The people who would oppose the idea that social media dangers should be taught in the classroom need to see that students do not see the dangers of looking at their social media accounts multiple times per day can cause.
Another argument that could come up with this topic is the fact that people may view depression as something that is caused by bullying. They will say that in order to actually have depression, it needs to be diagnosed by a doctor. What they fail to see is that most cases of depression go undiagnosed. The dangers of social media accounts should be taught in school systems because, “30% of college students report that in the last 12 months they have felt so depressed that it was difficult to function, only 10% of college students report having sought care and been diagnosed with depression,” (Moreno 448). This goes to show you that if students are aware of these facts when they are using their social media accounts then this number of students who are depressed in college should decrease.
Parents could argue that these programs in my proposal are unrealistic and that we do not have the funding to implement these programs. To fund these programs, we could do some more fundraising to help with the cost, just like the bullying programs use. If we include it into the bullying program, we can raise a little bit more funding to be able to teach the dangers of social media usage within the program. Also, if you make that website kidshealth.org known by having a meeting with the parents to teach them about the website, it can help with the need for funds to help get the word out about the dangers of using social media accounts.
“Facebook depression” is something that everyone needs to be aware of with the advances that have come with social media accounts. It is something that children in elementary school need to become aware of due to the fact that children are getting their own social media accounts at younger and younger ages. There are going to be many people who believe that these issues are not real, but if they become informed with the research that has been done with this issue, they will become more approachable with the proposal that I have come up with. The big issue that comes with the dangers of using social media accounts is that people do not know what these dangers are, so to help the issue they need to become aware of the issue and look at the researches done on it.
Appel, Helmut, et al. “Social Comparison, Envy, and Depression on Facebook: A Study Looking at the Effects of High Comparison Standards on Depressed Individuals.” Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, vol. 34, no. 4, Apr. 2015, pp. 277-289. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1521/jscp.2015.34.4.277.
Blease C.R. “Too Many ‘Friends,’ Too Few ‘Likes’? Evolutionary Psychology and ‘Facebook Depression’.” Review of General Psychology, vol. 19, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1–13., doi:10.1037/gpr0000030.
Moreno, Megan A., et al. “Feeling Bad on Facebook: Depression Disclosures by College Students on a Social Networking Site.” Depression & Anxiety (1091-4269), vol. 28, no. 6, June 2011, pp. 447-455. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/da.20805.
O’keeffe, G. S., and K. Clarke-Pearson. “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.” Pediatrics 127.4 (2011): 800-04. Web.
Steers, Mai-Ly N., et al. “Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage Is Linked to Depressive Symptoms.” Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, vol. 33, no. 8, Oct. 2014, pp. 701-731. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1521/jscp.2014.33.8.701.
Tandoc, Edson C, et al. “Facebook Use, Envy, and Depression among College Students: Is Facebooking Depressing?” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 43, 2015, pp. 139–146., doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.10.053.
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