Facebook-depression-actor-resource.jpgWith all the happy, shining photos posted on Facebook, is it possible that some of its members are actually not quite so carefree and cool after all? Apparently so; the American Academy of Pediatrics recently warned that exposure to Facebook has the potential to lead to depression. According to the lead author of new American Academy of Pediatrics social media guidelines, Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, these radiant photos showing people having good times, accompanied by in-your-face popularity tallies, as well as status updates can do a number on those who suffer with low self-esteem. When a child or teen feels his or her life doesn’t measure up to what’s perceived on others’ Facebook pages, it is described as being more painful than sitting alone in a crowded school cafeteria. After all, the site conceals vulnerable facial expressions or self-conscious body language of anyone in the midst of posting. Certainly, if the viewer could see an individual suffering from a broken heart as he uploads a radical pic of his latest gnarly skateboard maneuver, the viewer might have a more realistic sense of the actual digital social landscape.

Researchers disagree on whether “Facebook depression” is simply an extension of depression some kids and teens feel in other circumstances, or a distinct condition linked with using Facebook. But as the site is “where all the teens are hanging out now,” according to O’Keeffe, the guidelines ultimately encourage parents to make their children aware of Facebook depression as well as cyberbullying, sexting, and other online risks.

O’Keeffe also acknowledges the benefits of kids using social media sites like Facebook for their ability to connect with friends and family, and sharing photos, and exchanging ideas. “A lot of what’s happening is actually very healthy, but it can go too far,” she said.

Dr. Megan Moreno, a University of Wisconsin adolescent medication specialist who has studied online social networking among college students, insists that well-adjusted kids using Facebook can, in fact, increase feelings of social connectedness–creating the opposite effect of what is seen in those prone to depression. Parents shouldn’t get the idea that using Facebook “is going to somehow infect their kids with depression,” Moreno asserts.

So what is there to take from this recent research that applies to you, aspiring actors? First of all, Facebook has the potential to be a useful tool in the actor’s arsenal when it comes to networking. You can put yourself out there, show what your interests are and what you’re up to, and there’s the potential to meet individuals otherwise out of reach. Increasing the size of your social circle can be a game changer in the competitive world of acting. But if this resource starts arousing feelings of inadequacy or an unhealthy desire to keep up with the cyber Jones’; or, if you find yourself feeling frustrated that your “likes” have hit a ceiling as opposed to others on the site, maybe it’s best to take a break and consider other networking options. Sites like Facebook are not for everyone, and people have managed to achieve high degrees of success in career and relationships way back in the dark ages when people used to more readily meet for coffee or drinks–B4 the inception of Facebook.

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