27 June, Tuesday


Instagram most likely to negatively affect young’s mental health

Science & Tech

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Instagram is the social media platform most likely to have a negative affect on young people’s health and wellbeing, a report has found.
 
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Young Health Movement (YHM) questioned close to 1,500 people aged between 14 and 24-years old in the UK about five of the biggest social media platforms: Facebook. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. Instagram was ranked as the platform most likely to have a negative affect on their health and wellbeing, with YouTube classed as the most positive. Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat were ranked as the second, third and fourth most positive, respectively.
 
While Instagram, which is used to share photos and video clips,  scored highly in terms of promoting self-expression and self-identity, it is also perceived having negative implications for anxiety, depression and the fear of missing out (FoMO). Conversely, while video platform YouTube was ranked as having a negative affect on sleep, it scored highly in terms of positively influencing awareness, emotional support and community building. The combination of being in constant contact with the pressure of unrealistic representations surrounding body image and being perceived to be constantly having fun could be responsible for both triggering depression and worsening existing conditions, a separate report from the American Academy of Pediatrics found earlier this year.
 
Researchers have drawn links between young people’s heavy use of social media (defined as spending more than two hours a day on it) and poor mental health, suggesting they were more likely to report feeling psychologic distress including anxiety and depression.
 
Around 91 per cent of 16-24 year-olds use social networks, according to the Office for National Statistics. Bullying is also an issue exacerbated by the rise of social media. Annabelle, who now in her twenties, was targeted on social media by a group of girls from school when she was 15.  “I remember them making fun of my looks, spreading untrue rumours about me and targeting my faith. They would privately message and write statuses about me,” she said. “Every time I went online I knew I was about to be subjected to a barrage of abuse and hate, but I wanted to know what people were saying about me rather than it going on behind my back, or hearing about it from friends.
 
Annabelle stopped eating, began self-harming and became extremely anxious at the thought of leaving the house. Eventually, she blocked the bullies, and while her anxiety has lessened in the intervening years, she acknowledges she will never fully be free of the impact the bullying had. Now, she feels “secure, accomplished and in a good place in my life.” The RSPH is calling for responsible use of social media to be taught in Personal, Social and Health Education lessons in schools, and for platforms to flag up when a picture has been digitally manipulated.
“Keeping Instagram a safe and supportive place, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves, is our top priority – particularly when it comes to young people. Every day people from all over the world use Instagram to share their own mental health journey and get support from the community,” said Michelle Napchan, Instagram Head of Policy, EMEA. “For those struggling with mental health issues, we want them to be able to access support on Instagram when and where they need it. That’s why we work in partnership with experts to give people the tools and information they need while using the app, including how to report content, get support for a friend they are worried about, or directly contact an expert to ask for advice on an issue they may be struggling with.” (inews)
 
 
 

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