A child who shows any of these symptoms consistently for two weeks or more should see a mental health professional specializing in adolescents as soon as possible.
When the journal Pediatrics reported last spring that there might be a connection between intense Internet use and teen mental disorders, the term "Facebook depression" went viral. But is it real? "I don't think so," says Sharon Chirban, Ph.D., a child psychologist at Children's Hospital in Boston. "Facebook is just another type of social interaction that highlights something already there." She does advise unplugging your child for a few days if social networking seems to trigger negative emotions. "Time away from the computer lets her follow interests and nurture in-person relationships," she says, "and that will help her feel better about herself."
Originally published in the September 2011 issue of Family Circle magazine.