According to a new report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in the UK, Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people’s mental health, followed closely by Snapchat.
Their study, #StatusofMind, surveyed almost 1500 young people aged 14 to 24 on how certain social media platforms impact health and wellbeing issues such as anxiety, depression, self-identity and body image.
YouTube was found to have the most positive impact, while Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter all demonstrated negative affects overall on young people’s mental health.
In a chat with CNN, Matt Keracher, author of the report said, ‘Instagram draws young women to compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality’.
“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.
To tackle the problem, the RSPH has called for social media platforms to take action in order to help combat young users’ feelings of inadequacy and anxiety by placing a warning on 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. 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,” Keracher said.
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.