A report titled #StatusOfMind was done by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH). They surveyed 1,500 young people about social media. Of the five social media platforms that were included in the survey, Instagram was found to have the worst effect on young people’s mental health.
The #StatusOfMind report examined both the positive, and the negative, effects that social media has on young people’s health. The report included Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. The report asked 1,500 young people, who were between the ages of 14 and 24 to rank what extent different social media platforms impacted certain health related factors.
The results of the report, from best to worst:
Don’t assume the results mean that YouTube is perfect and Instagram should never be used by young people. Each social media platform has its own positives and negatives.
For example, YouTube was ranked best for wellbeing. It allowed for the best awareness and understanding of other people’s health experiences. It also was considered by the young people who participated in the report to be the best social media platform for self expression.
YouTube was the only social media platform that was not not reported as having a negative impact on mental health. That being said, the young people ranked YouTube as having a negative effect on their sleep.
The young people who participated in the report identified Instagram as being the best social media platform for self expression and self identity. The same group ranked Instagram the worst for sleep and body image.
Part of the reason Instagram was not considered good for young people’s body image is they compare themselves, and their lives, to the photos. Sometimes, the photos have been “photoshopped” or edited. Or, the photos on someone’s Instagram page are highly curated to give the impression of a perfect life. This illusion of perfectness can cause some young people to feel depressed because they do no match up to what they see.
RSPH and the Young Health Movement are calling for action from the government, social media companies, and policy makers to promote the positive aspects of social media, while mitigating the potential negatives. Their recommendations include:
* Introducing a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media.
* Social media platforms should identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support.
* Social media platforms should highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated.
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