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How Does Facebook Affect Teenagers Socially?

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated June 13, 2017

Facebook can serve as a convenient method of maintaining contact and connections with family and friends. Because teenagers often find Facebook entertaining and enticing, it’s common for them to spend a significant amount of time interacting with others via Facebook. Teenagers may experience some social effects from using Facebook frequently.

Social Connectivity

Facebook can be an effective way for teenagers to maintain and even enhance connections created at school positively, states the American Psychological Association website. Even introverted and shy teenagers can gain courage and experience interacting with peers through Facebook. In addition, teenagers may gain empathy skills as they interact through Facebook.

Distraction from Learning

Once hooked into the social interactions on Facebook, teenagers may feel compelled to log in and interact many times during the day. The time and effort required for frequent Facebook interactions can distract an adolescent from learning activities, states the APA. In fact, Facebook use may even contribute to lower grades for some teenagers.

Psychological Disorders

A relatively new disorder on the scene -- “Facebook depression” -- may involve symptoms of sadness and anxiety connected with Facebook use, states Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, MD, and Kathleen Clarke-Pearson MD, with the American Academy of Pediatrics. The depression and anxiety often occurs if teenagers fail to receive the contact and acceptance they crave from other teenagers on Facebook. Results of Facebook depression may be social isolation, which could lead to negative risk-taking behaviors.

Substance Use

The images and interactions that occur on Facebook can involve and include drugs and alcohol -- images of people engaging in these activities or status updates about the activities. Teenagers may see these activities and perceive that these activities are acceptable, states the DrugFree.org website. In addition, teenagers who have a substance abuse problem may have difficulty maintaining sobriety and recovery when they see drug- or alcohol-related content on Facebook.

Bullying

Teenagers interacting through social media avenues such as Facebook may encounter bullying situations, states O’Keeffe and Clark-Pearson. The authors of the AAP report define cyberbullying as the deliberate use of digital media to hurt, embarrass or share hostile information about someone else. With the social interactions that take place between “friends” on Facebook, it’s common for cyberbullying situations to occur. The results of cyberbullying can include anxiety, depression and even suicide.

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