Pediatricians are being entreated to incorporate a few questions about Facebook use during routine doctor's office check-ups for youth. The idea, urged by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), is to help ward off a newish subset of depression entitled "Facebook depression," wherein kids who haven't yet adapted to the harsh realities of social networking may get distressed and become socially isolated.
What does "Facebook Depression" look like? Well, a lot like regular depression: It includes "classic signs of depression, such as changing sleep and eating habits, experiencing mood swings, hanging out with different friends or becoming socially isolated," the researchers explained to Healthday. Doctors are encouraged, observes Time's Healthland, to "glean information" about kids social networking habits "without coming across as heavy-handed."
An example: "So a doctor might casually ask, Do you have a cell phone? A Facebook account? How many friends--virtual ones, not in-the-flesh pals--do you have?" Time goes on to cite the study's co-author as asking a sample question of, "Is it 20 or 200 [Facebook friends]?... That gives you lot of information right there."
What pediatricians are expected to do with that information, other than urge caution and educate teens on social media literacy, is unclear (also unclear: is it worse having 20 friends or 200 friends?). And even Time notes that some time-strapped pediatricians appear to be balking at an additional check-up:
Some doctors are concerned that they barely have enough time as it is to cover everything they want to during the course of a brief visit; they're leery of adding another bullet point to the checklist.
For those keeping track, the depression research follows a long line of studies that have linked Facebook usage (among all age groups) to concerns of narcissism, lower grades, jealousy in relationships, and eating disorders.