Why paying attention to your teen's Facebook profile could help their mental health

someone on facebook

We all know that Facebook has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it's a useful social tool. Then again, with people using their statuses to vent or confess, it can also be a place of TMI! But now, a new report says that paying attention to your Facebook news feed could actually be beneficial to your friend's health.

The study, published in the New York Times, illustrates that experts of adolescent mental health think that dark or gloomy status updates could actually signal an early stage of depression in teens. After researchers at University of Washington evaluated over 200 student profiles last year, they found that 30 percent posted updates that "reported feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, insomnia or sleeping too much, and difficulty concentrating"--all symptoms of depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

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So how can you tell which ones are harmless and which are worth noting? Right now, there's no real answer.

"People do post very distressing things," Dr. Gregory T. Eells, of Cornell's counseling and psychological services, told the Times. "Sometimes they're just letting off steam, using Facebook as something between a diary and an op-ed piece. But sometimes we'll tell the team, 'check in on this person.'"

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I'm typically not one to take Facebook too seriously on anything. But, when you're potentially dealing with someone's future health, I say better safe than sorry. Having grown up as part of "the Internet generation," I've seen firsthand how people--particularly teens and some pre-adolescents—often use social media sites to express their frustrations with various aspects of their life.

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I'm not saying every sad status update should be taken seriously. I mean everyone has a bad day now and then! But if one person is consistently updating their page with posts that sound depressed, it should be a warning signal to you that they're not in a great state of mind. So moms, keep an eye on your kid's and friend's profiles! You could be making a drastic difference.

Do you think Facebook updates could signal possible depression?

Image via English106/flickr

Topics: latino health  mental health