An influential group of doctors has warned that teenagers can suffer from “Facebook depression” after becoming obsessed with the social networking website.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, being shunned on a social networking website can be more harmful than if a child is ignored by their friends in real-life.
The group, which has published its first set of social media guidelines, explains that online harassment “can cause profound psycho-social outcomes”, including suicide.
AAP lead researcher 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,” the Daily Mail quoted her as saying.
O'Keeffe added that the site provides a skewed view because its users cannot see body language or facial expressions which provide context for messages posted on the site.
Megan Moreno, a University of Wisconsin adolescent medicine specialist who has studied online social networking among college students, said using Facebook can enhance social connections among some youngsters, while having the opposite effect on those prone to depression.