When it comes to social media, there’s no doubt that popular platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram have a massive influence on the younger generation. But, that influence may not be all good, especially when it comes to mental health.
A new study from the United Kingdom states that in social media, Instagram ranks as the most detrimental for adolescents’ and young adults’ mental health, CBS News reports. Researchers at the Royal Society for Public Health partnered with the Young Health Movement to examine the positive and negative effects of social media on young people’s overall health and well-being.
The report, entitled #StatusofMind, ranked photo-sharing application Instagram as the worst for mental health, followed by Snapchat and Facebook. On the other hand, YouTube and Twitter were on top for most positive, the researchers say.
The researchers surveyed close to 1,500 teenagers and young adults ages 14 to 24 years old across the UK. The participants scored how each of the social media platforms listed impacted them on 14 specific factors such as emotional support, depression, loneliness, body image, sleep, self-expression, self-identity, bullying and community-building.
Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, says,
Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues.
Cramer says that Instagram and Snapchat are “very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.” One participant stated in the survey, “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.’”
Another participant stated, “Anonymous bullying online over Twitter around personal things has led to me self-harming and left afraid of going to school. Bullying on Instagram has lead me to attempt suicide and also self-harm. Both caused me to experience depressive episodes and anxiety.”
The researchers admit that there is still much to be learned on the topic, but add that these are important conversations and issues that should be addressed, especially when it comes to young people, who are the most vulnerable to mental and emotional harms.