Melbourne: Facebook may help people connect but spending too much time on the social networking site can make teenage girls depressed, a US psychologist has warned.
The number of friends they have is also a big risk factor for depression.
Dr Leonard Sax, author of Girls on the Edge, said the risks were higher for girls because they usually only posted “good things and happy stuff”.
“Girls post the happy things and they turn the camera on themselves so it’s ‘look here at what I’m doing,’” News.com.au quoted him as saying.
“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,’” Dr Sax explained.
Dr Sax said teenage girls, unlike adults, struggled to understand that people were intentionally making themselves look good. They were more likely to compare their lives to what they saw on the computer screen.
“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 do’`t have one or two best friends, they have 12, 15, 20. They are losing the skills to nurture close friendships,” he said.
Dr Sax recommends parents limit time on social networking sites to 20 to 30 minutes a day and institute set times they would spend with their daughters.
“Parents need to know everything their children are doing on their laptop and they need to know that you know,” he said.
“Say ‘it`s my job to know what you’re doing because I need to be able to keep you safe’. If they want to say something private to a friend, go and speak to them,” he suggested.
Dr Sax said parents had to balance restrictions with positives, such as setting aside quality time.