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Debate over Facebook's effect on self-esteem

Some say social media websites can enhance it. Others see dangers for teenagers.

It is not your typical five-minute wait.

With each second ticking by, your Facebook page stays the same. Then the red notification flag flashes on your blue screen.

Congratulations, you have received your first like on your post.

As people post their status, photos, or videos, competition begins with the number of likes or comments they receive. Whether that competition is healthy for teenagers is an open question.

For some teens, the problem arises when they realize that their friends get way more likes or comments than they do.

Many people have argued that social media websites enhance a person's self-esteem instead of deflating it. Others disagree, saying that social media websites are not a good place for people with low self-esteem.

"If somebody has a lot of friends or likes, it makes them feel better about themselves . . .," said Cam-Tu Vuong, 17, a junior at Central High School.

"However, for someone who does not get a lot of likes, it gets them thinking and they will start comparing themselves to others, which could lower their self-esteem."

Photos are another issue. Some people have very photogenic profile pictures of themselves. These can increase the number of likes they receive.

"Honestly, I look at the number of likes they have first," said Abigail Appleton, 18, a Central senior.

"I have certainly heard many people talk about how Facebook negatively affects their self-esteem," said Stephanie Smith, a psychologist in Erie, Colo., who frequently works with teens. "It's easy to feel as though we are not measuring up when all we see are people's best moments on Facebook."

According to the Social Skinny website, approximately 300,000 status updates, 140,000 photos, and 500,000 comments are posted by Facebook users every minute. Is there a way to avoid staring at the number of likes one has? Is there a way to avoid comparing yourself to others?

"Limiting time on Facebook would be a good place to start, if cutting it out completely seems too drastic or not doable," Smith said. "Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that we need to be aware of how Facebook affects each of us individually. If it is having a negative effect, perhaps we need to make some changes in how we use this technology."