Young people are growing up in a world where social media is embedded into their lives at an early age. But with so much exposure, what effect does it have on them?
According to a new study by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health, Instagram is the worst app among all social media platforms impacting a young peoples’ mental health negatively.
The study (according to CNN), dubbed #StatusofMind, surveyed nearly 1,500 people aged between 14-24 on how each social media platform affect them from a list of 14 health and well-being issues, from their body image, depression, anxiety, bullying, “FoMo” (fear of missing out) and loneliness, among others.
The survey found that Instagram had the most negative effect on young people, harming their perception of body image, increasing the fear of missing out, and have a detrimental effect on their sleep.
The report’s author, Matt Keracher, tells CNN that Instagram compels young people — especially women — to “compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality”.
Professional Youtuber Laci Green echoed those comments, adding: “Because platforms like Instagram and Facebook present highly curated versions of the people we know and the world around us. It is easy for our perspective of reality to become distorted. Socializing from behind a screen can also be uniquely isolating, obscuring mental health challenges even more than usual.”
While IG had the most negative impact, it was positive in areas of self-expression, self-identity and community building.
Instagram was followed by Snapchat in second, Facebook and then Twitter. Youtube, however, was the only social media platform to have a largely positive effect on mental health.
In an attempt to resolve the issue, the Royal Society for Public Health is asking social media platforms to add warning symbols on photos that have been manipulated. “We’re not asking these platforms to ban Photoshop or filters, but rather to let people know when images have been altered so that users don’t take the images on face value as real,” Keracher said. “We really want to equip young people with the tools and the knowledge to be able to navigate social media platforms not only in a positive way but in a way that promotes good mental health.”
Has social media had a negative impact on you? Tell us your story.