Are you an Instagram addict under the age of 25? If so, your love of flexin’ online could be affecting your mental health.
[FLASHBACK: Instagram Fail! Bow Wow Busted Lying About Private Jet… ]
It’s no secret that the photo/video sharing social media app can be addictive but apparently youngsters are being negatively affected by all the time spent scrolling on the ‘gram and now research shows mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, self-identity and body image issues can result from too much time spent online.
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CNN reports that Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people’s mental health, followed closely by Snapchat.
A new report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in the UK called #StatusofMind studied the effects of social media apps like IG, Snap, Facebook, Twitter & Youtube to determine how they impact health and wellbeing issues such as anxiety, depression, self-identity and body image.
They surveyed almost 1500 young people aged 14 to 24 and found that Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter all demonstrated negative affects overall on young people’s mental health while YouTube was found to have the most positive impact.
It was also determined that there is a link between isolation and media use… in other words, kids are spending more time alone online than interacting with people offline but the most detrimental effects seem to be caused by filters and photo editing.
Instagram — the image-saturated app with over 700 million users worldwide — topped the list in terms of negative impact, most notably among young women, stated the report, published Friday.
Instagram draws young women to “compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality,” Matt Keracher, author of the report, told CNN. “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,’ ” an anonymous female respondent said in the report.
The RSPH suggests that social media platforms take action in order to help combat young users’ feelings of inadequacy and anxiety by placing a warning on all images that have been digitally 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,” he added.
The survey concluded that while Instagram negatively affected body image, sleep patterns and added to a sense of “FOMO” (the Fear Of Missing Out), the image app was also a positive outlet for self-expression and self-identity for many of its young users.
The report also found that it’s not just what young people are engaging with on social media, but also how long they are engaging with it.
Young people who spend more than two hours per day connecting on social networking sites are more likely to report poor mental health, including psychological distress, according to the report.
Now before you take your kids phones, Sir Simon Wessely, President of the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists supports an education-based approach and warns that demonizing social media is not the answer.
I am sure that social media plays a role in unhappiness, but it has as many benefits as it does negatives,” he said.
We need to teach children how to cope with all aspects of social media — good and bad — to prepare them for an increasingly digitized world. There is real danger in blaming the medium for the message.
What are your thoughts about this social media study?
Is Instagram diving some people crazy?