Facebook disputes report linking social media to depression
Paul Brent, ctvottawa.ca
Published Tuesday, March 29, 2011 3:50PM EDT
Facebook is fighting back after heavy media coverage of a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which said there may be a new mental health problem called "Facebook depression."
The report, released Monday, contends that use of social networking sites for some young people can contribute to stress and symptoms of depression.
Facebook sent CTV Ottawa an email from their public relations firm in which they state the "Academy goes for headlines but fails to substantiate its point."
The argument points to the website PsychCentral.com, a well respected online site about mental health issues.
The editor, Dr. John Grohol, says in part "the term (Facebook depression) that the authors simply made up to describe the phenomenon observed when depressed people use social media. Shoddy research? You bet. That's why Pediatrics calls it a ‘clinical report' — because it's at the level of a bad blog post written by people with a clear agenda."
He goes on to say, regarding the citations supposedly supporting this new ailment: "None could demonstrate a causative relationship between use of Facebook making a teenager or child feel more depressed. Zero."
The Facebook statement says the report from the American Academy of Pediatrics does present useful information for parents and doctors and has a section that talks about the benefits to young people of using social media.
They also brought up a study to support their position. Facebook points to a report last month from Cornell University which studied about 50 students and concluded that Facebook can in fact boost self-esteem.
Johanna Pierce, spokeswoman for the PR agency, told CTV Ottawa that Facebook does not take this kind of action very often.
Rather, they look at it on a "case by case basis" about whether they contact media and put out their side of the debate.