Instagram has worst im­pact on men­tal health

Study: Photo-shar­ing app neg­a­tively af­fects young peo­ple’s body im­age, sleep and fear of miss­ing out

The Courier & Advertiser (Dundee Edition) - - NEWS - Alexan­der briTTon

Instagram is the worst so­cial me­dia site in terms of its im­pact on the men­tal health of young peo­ple, a re­port has sug­gested.

The Sta­tu­sofMind sur­vey found the photo-shar­ing app neg­a­tively im­pacted on peo­ple’s body im­age, sleep and fear of miss­ing out.

How­ever, the sur­vey of 1,479 young­sters aged 14 to 24, found Instagram was pos­i­tive in terms of self-ex­pres­sion and self-iden­tity.

Re­spon­dents were asked to score how each of the so­cial me­dia plat­forms they use im­pact upon is­sues such as anx­i­ety, lone­li­ness and com­mu­nity build­ing.

The site with the most pos­i­tive rat­ing was YouTube, fol­lowed by Twit­ter. Facebook and Snapchat came third and fourth re­spec­tively.

The Royal So­ci­ety for Pub­lic Health (RSPH) re­port said: “The plat­forms that are sup­posed to help young peo­ple con­nect with each other may ac­tu­ally be fu­elling a men­tal health cri­sis.”

Rec­om­men­da­tions in­cluded in­tro­duc­ing pop-ups on sites such as Twit­ter and Facebook warn­ing users about heavy us­age – which the RSPH said was sup­ported by 70% of peo­ple sur­veyed – and so­cial me­dia plat­forms dis­creetly sign­post­ing help to those po­ten­tially suf­fer­ing from men­tal health is­sues.

Shirley Cramer CBE, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the RSPH, said: “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.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing to see Instagram and Snapchat rank­ing as the worst for men­tal health and well­be­ing – both plat­forms are very im­age-fo­cused and it ap­pears they may be driv­ing feel­ings of in­ad­e­quacy and anx­i­ety in young peo­ple.

“As the ev­i­dence grows that there may be po­ten­tial harms from heavy use of so­cial me­dia, and as we up­grade the sta­tus of men­tal health within so­ci­ety, it is im­por­tant that we have checks and bal­ances in place to make so­cial me­dia less of a wild west when it comes to young peo­ple’s men­tal health and well­be­ing.”

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