Instagram ‘has worst effect on mental health’

mental health

Popular photo sharing app Instagram has a more negative effect on the mental health of young people than other social network according to new research.

Released in 2010, the mobile app’s initial focus on instant image processing to give a distinctive, often retro look proved highly popular and following meteoric growth Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 for no less than $1 billion. These days the network is widely used by celebrities to share personal news and digital snapshots with their fans.

Now, a charity called the Royal Society for Public Health has claimed that Instagram can encourage more susceptible youngsters to obsess about their body image and consumer status symbols that their friends or celebrities may have, leading them to worry that they might be ‘missing out’ if they cannot afford them. Such anxieties can affect sleep and damage their mental health.

A group of 1,479 youngsters aged 14 to 24 were asked to rate the various social networks according to whether they made them feel anxious or lonely, or helped them to build a sense of community.

Video sharing site YouTube received the most positive ratings, then Twitter, while the third and fourth places went to Facebook and Snapchat. Instagram was bottom of the list.

The report outlines various recommendations which might help to address the mental health dimensions of social media. These include pop-up warnings when a user has been on the site too long – an idea which seven out of ten participants in the study approved of. In addition, users who exhibit symptoms that might indicate mental health problems could be subtly guided towards potential sources of help.

Shirley Cramer CBE is chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health. She 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.”

Read the report, entitled #StatusofMind, here.

Image by Hamza Butt via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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2 comments

Jim - May 20, 2017 at 3:50pm

What utter tosh. When are people going to stop looking for excuses and identifying that people no longer take responsibility for thier lives anymore.

What next, Facebook is the result of AGW and the lack of common sense is caused bt Google???

Get a life people.

Paul - May 21, 2017 at 2:45am

Interesting. The alarmist media always discribe new technical phenomenon as threat. Its good we look at our own behaviour objectively.
Social media does deffinatly have a big impact on peoples lives now. Guidance for young people on online conduct is important I would say. Talking about these things as if we can go back to walkmans and ditch all the social media is alarmist and not realistic. In reality as social media impacts on peoples lives they will develop coping stratergies. Some more successfully than others of course. Adding an annoying pop up box to warn you about how long you have been on is pointless. Nobody reads them because of advertising saturation. When did you last read a pop up or disclaimer ? Exactly… Just tech junk. The kids who want to use it all day will just download a pop up killer anyway.

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