Have you experienced “Facebook depression”?

Samantha Tata

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Ask most young people today if they manage a page on Facebook and they’ll respond positively. But the growing online presence of young people may not be so communal.

Spending an exorbitant amount of time on Facebook may actually be depressing its users, said Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, a Boston-area pediatrician and lead author of the new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines.

She said young people may feel excluded or isolated from confirmed friends, adding that the site’s skewed perspective of reality creates an image of constant promotion, celebration and comradery of those who post regularly. Users who simply watch may feel left behind, as though their lives are not as interesting or exciting as their friends’.

O’Keeffe described the site as a popularity contest for who can acquire the most friends and accumulate tags in photos. Facebook also serves as a platform of free speech – positive and negative. Comments, statuses and wall posts can be judgemental, offensive or condescending.

The digital realm has become an extension of reality, gaining influence comparable to that of in-person interaction. Is ‘Facebook depression’ a legitimate concern? How many hours do you spend on the site, how active are you? Have you experienced this negative reaction?