By Tony Johnson | Arts & Entertainment Editor

On an average night, junior and moderate Facebook user Ryan Kelly spends an hour or so per night on the popular social-networking site chatting with friends. Kelly thinks of it as nothing more than another way to communicate. However, a recent study suggests that the use of Facebook and other social networking sites can lead to something far less friendly: clinical depression.

“I don’t think [it can],” Kelly said. “I think that Facebook actually brings people together socially, after school. When they’re not hanging out together, they can chat online.”

Contrary to Kelly’s belief, a recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that Facebook use can lead to depression symptoms due to a lack of physical and real-life connection.

“It’s not totally direct, so you don’t really see the whole person and you’re missing the real light and real lively aspect of it,” Kelly said. “In hindsight, I would say it’s not as good as being [together] in person.”

The study states that one of the main reasons Facebook may cause depression is because online conversation removes body language from the equation. However, it can also be caused by a sense of isolation that a ‘wired life’ can promote.

“I think [Facebook is] another form of social rejection,” AP English teacher Daniel Farias said. “Just like people who didn’t get picked on the playground, didn’t picked for a team, or didn’t get asked out to the prom; this is another way for people that are insecure or unpopular to get rejected.”

Opponents of the study argue that Facebook isn’t the sort of thing that would directly link to depression, and shouldn’t be accused of giving off negative feelings.

“I don’t think anything like Facebook could directly cause depression,” junior Keagan Wickerham said. “I think stuff on Facebook might be able to, but I don’t think the website itself could cause any sort of level of depression. Quite frankly, that’s just dumb. I don’t think that can actually activate [emotional] receptors.

Wickerham attributes any correlation to exterior variables.

“I think it’s probably something else going on, maybe people use Facebook as an outlet and it causes them to express it. But I don’t think you could say Facebook is directly causal to depression,” he said.

While there is no ‘cure’ for Facebook depression, avid users can easily avoid it by logging off once in a while and leaving the computer for something else to connect to.

“I think that students should focus on creating real-life, actual, meaningful relationships with people that matter,” Farias said. “It can be a hobby or a pastime, but for some students it’s their entire life, and that’s a dangerous thing, because students should practice interacting and engaging with real-life people.”

The theory that the use of Facebook and other social-networking sites can link to depression merits some consideration, but in the end, the condition depends on the user and their self-control.

“Ultimately, it comes down to the person,” Wickerham said. “You could say maybe there’s some correlation to Facebook use and depression, but really there’s probably no actual causal relationship. It’s probably just some weird correlation that scientists are overanalyzing and are just playing out like yellow journalism, like ‘oh lets get people are fired up and scared about something.’ It’s really probably not true.”

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