A recent survey of nearly 1500 teenagers and young adults by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health explains why Instagram is the worst.
For many Instagram has replaced Facebook in our day-to-day need to socially interact with people, post pictures, and stay up to date about trends. But is this application doing the best for our mental health? Well, according to a recent survey of nearly 1500 teenagers and young adults Instagram is the worst platform for mental health. Although the photo-sharing platform has been lauded for providing a way to express oneself and help with self-identity, it has also been associated with high levels of depression, anxiety, bullying, and of course the fear of missing out, which is also known as FOMO.
I once had a student who shared with me that she deleted her pics if she didn't get enough likes....— Dr. Ai 🎓#ClassroomWithoutWalls (@aiaddysonzhang) April 10, 2018
Per Time, there were five social networks that were a part of the survey #StatusOfMind, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. While YouTube was given the highest points for wellbeing and health, Twitter was ranked second and Facebook came in third. This was followed by Snapchat and Instagram secured the last position. Now, YouTube was the only site that attained a net positive score by 1,479 respondents who were between the ages of 14 to 24. The results of this survey, conducted across Scotland, Wales, England, and Northern Ireland, were published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health.
I see the effects of insta in the hallways and in my classroom often. Even realizing someone has blocked them can be very upsetting for students, mainly because the communication isn’t there to explain why and then people are left hurt, confused and often retaliatory— Glynis Hunt (@HuntGlynis) April 10, 2018
In due course of the survey, which began in February and continued through May of this year, young people were asked several questions about the impact social media platforms had on 14 different issues, all of which were related to their physical or mental health. The answers were not negative all the way as social networking did receive positive points for "self-identity, self-expression, community building and emotional support" with YouTube receiving the highest scores for "bringing awareness of other people’s health experiences, for providing access to trustworthy health information and for decreasing respondents’ levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness," according to Time.
Is this about the tech or the people using it? I don't like when tech gets blamed when people use it inappropriately. I love Instagram. I also follow photographers, artists, creatives, etc. Schools should be teaching appropriate uses of tech starting in Kindergarten. #edchat— Eric Patnoudes M.Ed. (@NoApp4Pedagogy) April 10, 2018
However, all of these mediums were given marks for disturbing the quality of sleep, contributing to bullying, body image issues, and FOMO. Apart from YouTube, the rest of the four networks were linked to increased anxiety and depression. "Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life," stated the report by #StatusOfMind. "These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude." It also pointed at the unrealistic expectations that such social media posts create and in turn promotes feelings of inadequacy and issues like low self-esteem. This might be the reason behind personal photos on Instagram receiving worst scores for anxiety and body image problems.
I see so many school related problems rooted in SM use and instagram is high on the list if not the highest.— Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher) April 10, 2018
"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,'" wrote one respondent of the survey. The more social mediums a young adult uses, the more likely it is for them to report depression and anxiety, other research found. While study authors say it's possible for people with poor mental health to be drawn towards many social networks, them "trying to navigate between different norms and friend networks on various platforms could be to blame," as well. Hoping the curb these harmful impacts of social media on young adults and kids, the Royal Society is calling for a change to be undertaken by social media companies.
They suggest introducing a "heavy usage" warning pop-up within its app or website and it is something that was supported by 71% of survey respondents. It further recommends companies to find a way to "highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated" as well as help "identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts and discretely signpost to support." Furthermore, it calls for the government to ensure that "safe social media use" is taught during health education in schools. The report explains that the Royal Society hopes to empower adults by helping them use social media platforms "in a way that protects and promotes their health and wellbeing."
A professional health YouTube Laci Green said, "Socializing from behind a screen can also be uniquely isolating, obscuring mental health challenges even more than usual. As the first generation of social media users become adults, it is important that we lay the groundwork now to minimize potential harm and shape a digital future that is healthy and thriving."