Are you a mom who worries because your teenage daughter seems to be incessantly texting or emailing her best friends about her romantic problems? Your worries may be founded.
When adolescent girlfriends rehash the same problems together over and over, they increase their risk of depression and social anxiety. In a study focused on seventh and eighth-graders, Dr. Joanne Davila and Lisa Starr, MA, psychologists at Stony Brook University, studied the effects of co-rumination, first defined by Dr. Amanda Rose (2002) as excessive discussion of problems within friendships---including repeated conversations, conjecture about causes, and heightened focus on negative emotions.
“The abundance of communication technology available to teens today creates an enabling environment for co-rumination,” said investigator Starr in a press release. “Texting, instant messaging, and social networking make it very easy for adolescents to become even more anxious which can lead to depression.”
Conversely, if such discussions are focused on solving problems rather than ruminating about them, these discussions can generate positive solutions and contribute to emotional well-being. The new research findings were published in the February issue of the Journal of Adolescence.
This study builds upon research (discussed in a previous blog post) by Amanda Rose and colleagues at the University of Missouri-Columbia that also challenged the conventional wisdom: that it’s always good for adolescent girls to get problems “off their chest” by talking about them to close friends. Taken together both of these studies suggest that parents need to be alert to too much of a good thing. Hopefully, future studies will examine the effects of co-rumination among other age groups.
Source: Press Release, January 27, 2009, Excessive Discussion of Problems Between Adolescent Friends May Lead To Depression and Anxiety