Facebook puts vulnerable children at risk of depression, warn doctors

Mail Online (UK) 29th March 2011

Teenagers can suffer from ‘Facebook depression’ after becoming obsessed with the social networking website, an influential group of doctors has warned. Being shunned on a social networking website can be more harmful than if a child is ignored by their friends in real-life, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The group, which has published its first set of social media guidelines, explains that online harassment ‘can cause profound psycho-social outcomes’, including suicide – as seen with schoolboy Tom Mullaney last May. The 15-year-old was found dead at his home in Bournville, Birmingham, after being threatened on Facebook with being attacked at school. AAP lead researcher Dr Gwenn O’Keeffe, a Boston-based paediatrician, said that social media had the power to ‘interfere with homework, sleep and physical activity’ among the young. ‘Parents need to understand these technologies so they can relate to their children’s online world – and comfortably parent in that world,’ she said. The AAP guidelines state teenagers need to be monitored when using Facebook.