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Social media can up depression in kids

Consumer Reports News: March 29, 2011 12:59 PM

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines to help doctors and parents recognize and discuss the mental-health risks faced by some teens and tweens who use Facebook and other social-media websites.

The report says while such websites can enhance communication, social interaction, sense of community, and technical skills, in some children it can also trigger low self esteem, peer pressure, and can cause or worsen anxiety or depression.

A Common Sense poll from August 2009 reported that 22 percent of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site ten times daily, and over half of adolescents log on more than once a day.

The report notes that obsessive use of social media can interfere with homework, physical activity, and sleep. This report validates what I’ve experienced, both as a doctor and a parent. So I welcome these new guidelines, as well as the advice they offer, including:

• Talk with your children about their online use and the specific issues they face, such as cyber bullying, sexting, and difficulty managing time.
• Learn as much as you can about the technologies your kids use.
• Develop a plan for the use of technology in the house, and define what is acceptable and what is not.
• Supervise your children’s online activities through active participation and communication, not just software that monitors their use.

See more on cyberbullying. And for more news and discussion on child and teen health, sign up for our free Child & Teen e-newsletter and "like" us on Facebook.

Sources:
The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families [Pediatrics]

Joseph Mosquera, M.D., is a board-certified physician also trained in integrative medicine, and a ConsumerReportsHealth.org adviser

   

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