A survey of almost 1500 14 to 24 year olds has found that Instagram is having a serious impact on young people’s body image and the quality and quantity of sleep that they got. Research by the Royal Society for Public Health and Young Health Movement found that it also contribute to bullying, anxiety, depression and a genuine fear of missing out that make is difficult to disconnect.
The people being questioned were asked about all social media sites and the only one that came out as even slightly positive was YouTube. The rest all fell into the negative category with Twitter being second to YouTube, Facebook in third, Snapchat in fourth with Instagram coming in last.
RSPH and YHM are calling on social media platforms to introduce a “heavy usage” pop up and to identify users who could be suffering with mental health problems and “discretely signpost to support”. They also say that these sites should highlight when photos have been airbrushed, a move supported by more than two thirds of young people.
FYI. I wasn’t surveyed but as a young person, I FULLY believe that this should be the case and am desperately hoping that soon any airbrushed photo will have to be labelled as such. Just so you can see QUITE how shocking the difference is, here’s my face PRE Facetune and after it, I should NOT be allowed to get away with the false advertising in picture two. Influencers have to say #ad if a post is paid for. Everyone should say #ps if their photo has been photoshopped. Just sayin.
Shirley Crammer, Chief Executive of 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 – not platforms are very image-focussed and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people. We want to promote and encourage the many positive aspects of networking platforms and avoid a situation that leads to social media psychosis which may blight the lives of our young people”
This comes at an interesting time actually as yesterday a plus size blogger who I follow on Twitter shared an image of herself asking why Instagram had taken her image down. The suggestion is that it was ‘fatshaming’ and would not be the first time that a social media site has done this to a plus size model, famously Facebook removed a photo of Tess Holiday in a bikini last year. Despite this however Michelle Napchan, head of policy at Instagram said that keeping the app a “safe and supportive place” is its “top priority when it comes to young people. For those struggling with mental health issues, we want them to be able to access support on Instagram when and where they need it.”
Again, I’ll say, I am so happy to see that these findings are being talked about and people are now putting pressure on social media sites to do more, but as social media users this is an important thing for us to hear too. I know it seems like a great thing to do, photoshopping your face just a tiny bit, sending Snapchats of yourself having SO much fun to people who might be a bit lonely, but it’s worth remembering that our actions do have reprecussions. Let’s all learn from this and do what we can to be more considerate social media users, at least until the sites themselves get a grip eh?