Instagram is the most likely social media platform to cause teenagers to feel depressed, anxious, lonely, and with low body confidence. That’s according to a newly published study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in the UK.
The report, titled #StatusOfMind, surveyed 1,500 young people includes some troubling statistics on social media and mental health among people aged 14-24. In the survey, the participants were asked to rank to what extent different social media platforms impacted certain health-related factors, from -2 (a lot worse) to +2 (a lot better).
Of the 5 platforms included in the survey, Instagram fared the worst. From most positive impact to most negative, the platforms are:
It should be noted that all social media platforms except for YouTube were reported as having a net negative impact on mental health.
Instagram users reported a high negative impact on Sleep, Body Image, FoMo, Bullying, and Anxiety.
“Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’,” says one female participant in the report.
The results were not all negative though –– the report notes that social media can improve young people’s access to other people’s experiences of health and expert health information, and those surveyed reported feeling more emotionally supported through their contacts than those who do not use social media.
The RSPH is calling for action to help mitigate the negative aspects of social media use. From their report, these recommendations include:
- Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated.
- Introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media – include the support from young people for each of these recommendations.
- Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support.
Social media has revolutionised how we all connect with one another, but has impacted none more so than our youth. According to the report, 91% of 16-24 year olds use the internet for social networking, so studies like these are vital to understanding and discussing how these platforms impact our lives.
If you are interested in learning more, the full report is available in PDF format from the RSPH website.
Image credits: Photograph by Tom Sodoge and used with permission