Overdosing on Facebook may lead to the development of such psychological disorders in teens, according to a recent study conducted by Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University.
In a presentation titled “Poke Me: How Social Networks Can Both Help and Harm Our Kids” at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association, Rosen presented his findings based on a number of computer-based surveys distributed to 1,000 urban adolescents and his 15-minute observations of 300 teens in the act of studying.
Some of the negative side effects of Facebook use for teens that Rosen cited include:
- Development of narcissism in teens who often use Facebook;
- Presence of other psychological disorders, including antisocial behaviors, mania and aggressive tendencies, in teens who have a strong Facebook presence;
- Increased absence from school and likelihood of developing stomach aches, sleeping problems, anxiety and depression, in teens who “overdose” in technology on a daily basis, including Facebook and video games;
- Lower grades for middle school, high school and college students who checked Facebook at least once during a 15-minute study period;
- Lower reading retention rates for students who most frequently had Facebook open on their computers during the 15-minute study period.
Not all findings were negative, however — one of the more interesting points from Rosen’s research was the development of “virtual empathy.”
Generally, we think of empathy as an in-person activity, where hugs, facial expressions and kind words help improve a loved one’s mood. Rosen says that teens are developing the ability to show virtual empathy for distressed Facebook friends and that the empathy is actually well-received by friends, positively influencing their mood.
This virtual empathy, he says, can even spill over into the real world, teaching teens how to empathize with others in everyday life.