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Excessive Facebook Use May Lead To Depression In Teens

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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By Rachel Slavik, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new study saying social networking sites are leading to depression in pre-teens and teens, gives parents another reason to limit their kid’s time on the computer.

Like most teenagers, Keith Balke has a Facebook page.

“I’m just there to talk to my friends and see what other people are doing,” Balke said.

He logs on every day and is never bothered by postings or when a friend request is ignored.

“It’s their life, they can do what they want,” Balke said.

However, there are other teens who take Facebook so seriously that they develop what’s called “Facebook depression.”

A study in the American Academy of Pediatrics said it often happens when teens spend hours on social networking sites and begin comparing their lives to those of their friends.

“Adolescence is a very vulnerable period of time,” said Steve Robinson, a family practice doctor at Fairview. “Something as simple as being unfriended by someone can be a very significant thing.”

Social media is becoming such a part of adolescent lives that pediatricians are beginning to incorporate it in their wellness checks.

“We talk about two hours a day of screen time being an appropriate amount,” Robinson said.

Doctors said parent involvement is the best way to avoid “Facebook depression.”

“I try to have an open conversation with both my children,” said Tammy Allen, Keith’s mother.

Allen even started her own Facebook page, which is another recommendation from pediatricians.

A different study out from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said Facebook may help identify people who are depressed, based on their references to depression symptoms in their profiles.

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