The American Academy of Pediatrics is now instructing doctors to ask questions about Facebook during routine checkups. This is to help fend of a new condition called—yes—“Facebook depression.”
According to Time‘s Healthland blog:
… some children who may be at risk for social isolation or poor self-esteem and spend a significant amount of time on the social-networking site may become depressed. The constant barrage of their peers’ happy status and photo updates and friend connections may present a skewed view of reality that could make at-risk kids feel that they don’t measure up.
So what are doctors supposed to be asking?
The key, it seems, is to glean information without coming across as heavy-handed. So a doctor might casually ask, Do you have a cell phone? A Facebook account? How many friends—virtual ones, not in-the-flesh pals—do you have?
“Is it 20 or 200?” says Gwenn O’Keeffe, co-author of the clinical report and a pediatrician outside Boston who has written Cybersafe, which was published by the AAP in October. “That gives you lot of information right there.”
There’s not much more the doctors can do—or are being asked to do—other than to alert parents and children to possible problems with unhealthy Facebook usage.
The thought of doctors dealing with “Facebook depression” is a ridiculous one—if you’re one of those people who still talks about how you had to walk uphill to school.
But in reality, with each generation, Facebook gets further imbedded into the lives of children. Kids are growing up with Facebook as an essential part of their formative years. Like it or not, Facebook is now a big part of life and a primary means of interaction for many kids. And that’s why it can be such a problem.