'Facebook depression?' The influence of social media on adolescents 'Empty', by 'Send me a drift' via Flickr

'Facebook depression?' The influence of social media on adolescents

The growing use of social networking sites also fosters concerns about the negative consequences for adolescents of using these sites. But do adolescents themselves confirm that they are depressed because of Facebook?

Adolescents make a big transition from a focus on parents to a focus on peers. Peers become increasingly important, and forming and maintaining friendships is one of the main challenges in adolescence. Until now most research on social development has focused on in-person interactions. Recently a shift has occurred from real-life social interactions with peers to online social interaction on Social Networking Sites (SNS) such as Facebook. The current generation is the first to grow up with SNS as part of their lives. Adolescents are heavy users of SNS: almost 75% of teenagers have a profile on an SNS and over half of them log in on their profile every day. A large part of adolescent social emotional development occurs online. How does teenagers’ online behavior relate to offline social behavior? And do adolescents experience negative consequences of SNS use?

A recent study shows that adolescent online behavior is similar to offline behavior. Individuals who display more pro-social behavior online also do this offline (Wright & Li, 2011). The same accounts for more negative behaviors, such as aggression. According to a national survey of over 1000 American teenagers aged 13-17, there were no differences in self reported well-being between adolescents who are heavy users of SNS and adolescents who are not. Most adolescents indicate that they did not feel that using social networking sites makes a difference in how they feel, for instance regarding their level of self-confidence or their mood. Interestingly, teenagers who do report that social networking sites affect their social emotional well-being mainly report a positive influence. They say it makes them feel less shy and more confident. Furthermore, more than half of the teenagers stated that the use of SNS made them feel more connected to their friends and family. Almost half of the teenagers, however, report that their favorite way of communication with their peers is face-to-face, they say it’s more fun and it’s easier to understand what others mean.

Although the concerns about a negative impact of social media on teenagers should be taken seriously, it seems that for the most part teenagers experience positive effects of using social media. With the increasing use of SNS, keeping track of the influence of online social interaction on social emotional development in the long run is an interesting avenue for future research.

See also this infographic by Common Sense Media:


Joshua N17

The research should be more on their behavior change than limiting to how they feel mostly.

Gerald Andrews

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social networking sites really have a great impact on the body and minds of adolescence. they effect the mind causing them to suffer.

Said Shafa

Interesting research and very relevant also. I read an article about this topic recently, that reported on the situation in the USA. They also mention that positive experiences outnumber the negative ones, allthough the enthusiams seems to be 'waining'. Here is why and a link to the general findings of the study.

In focus groups, many teens expressed waning enthusiasm for Facebook. They dislike the increasing number of adults on the site, get annoyed when their Facebook friends share inane details, and are drained by the “drama” that they described as happening frequently on the site. The stress of needing to manage their reputation on Facebook also contributes to the lack of enthusiasm. Nevertheless, the site is still where a large amount of socializing takes place, and teens feel they need to stay on Facebook in order to not miss out.