CAIRO - 28 January 2018: Instagram is the worst social media platform for mental health and wellbeing, a report by #StateofMind in 2017 based on a survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health where almost 1,500 teens and young adults participated in, concluded.
It appears that the platform is good for self-expression and identity as well as community building and emotional support but can also cause anxiety, depression, bullying and a “fear of missing out.” The survey included five social media platforms: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. YouTube is the only platform of the five to receive an overall positive score by the participants of the survey.
All the platforms, except YouTube, were associated with feelings of being "left out" and "comparison", and what is called a “compare and despair” mindset according to the #StateofMind report. However, all the platforms received negative marks for sleep quality, bullying, and body image. The #StateofMind report suggests courses of action that include the introduction of heavy-usage warning on social media applications, and highlighting photos that have been digitally altered or manipulated.
According to researchers at UCLA’s Brain Mapping Center, teenagers’ photos which receive many likes on Instagram and other social media apps, elicited the same response in the brain as seeing loved ones and winning money.
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.”
YouTuber Laci Green, a health vlogger, said, "Platforms like Instagram and Facebook present highly curated versions of the people we know and the world around us. It is easy for our perspective of reality to become distorted." She added that "socializing from behind a screen can also be uniquely isolating, obscuring mental health challenges even more than usual."
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