Too much Facebook leads to envy and depression

too_much_facebook_2065335U.S. psychologist Dr. Leonard Sax believes teenage girls who spend too much time on Facebook are more likely to be depressed. Furthermore, the total number of Facebook friends they have can also be a big risk factor for depression. Dr. Sax believes this particular risk is greater with girls than boys.

“Girls post the happy things and they turn the camera on themselves so it’s ‘look here at what I’m doing,'” Dr. Sax told AdelaideNow. “Then they look at all the other girls’ Facebook pages, look at them being happy and think ‘my life sucks, look at all the things those girls are doing and how much fun they’re having.’ The problem is she is spending all this time on her presence on Facebook and not nurturing strong friendships because Facebook prioritises acquaintances. Many girls now say they don’t have one or two best friends, they have 12, 15, 20. They are losing the skills to nurture close friendships.”

Dr. Sax argues that teenage girls struggle to understand that people intentionally make themselves look good on social networks like Facebook. As such, they end up comparing their lives with what they see online rather than what is happening offline.

So, what’s the solution? Dr. Sax suggests parents should limit how long their daughters spend on Facebook to 20 or 30 minutes. He argues parents should be aware of all the things their children do online and that children should be aware why their parents need to know everything.

Call me crazy, but I don’t think Dr. Sax’s solution is going to work.

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“If Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship — things that cause envy among users — use of the site can lead to feelings of depression,” said Margaret Duffy, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

This isn’t just a college phenomenon. I am nearing middle age and I can relate.

Facebook is a huge part of my life. Like most Facebook users, I have the app on my phone. I check it at work. I check it at home. I check it when I am out. If I am in a subway station with Wi-Fi, I check it there too.

I am up to date on all my friends, their kids and whatever they are reading at that moment. Unfortunately, it’s an addiction that I can’t quit.

I peruse Facebook from computer on my coffee table, because I am not grown up enough to buy a desk for myself. My coffee table is my all-purpose table. I eat there too — usually hunks of cheese with a knife and no crackers. That’s right no crackers, because I am too lazy to run out to the bodega.

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