Instagram: The Most Damaging Social Media Platform for Mental Health

There have been numerous studies regarding the impact of social media on the mental health of its users, and most of them have concluded that it is negative. However, a recent survey has put Instagram at the very top of that list, naming it the most damaging social media platform in existence today as far as mental health is concerned.

Teens and Young Adults are the Most Affected

The survey, which was conducted with a sample of over 1,500 individuals either in their teenage or adolescence years, showed that Instagram had both positive as well as negative effects on its users’ mental health. The platform received most points for its ability to provide it’s users with a platform to express themselves and their personalities, as well as helping them achieve a sense of identity.

However, users also highlighted how the use of Instagram resulted in an increased level of anxiety, bullying, sometimes depression, and often times, the fear of missing out and feeling excluded from the community.

Youtube Has The Most Positive Impact

Youtube was the only website out of the five to have a score in the net positive

The study surveyed users of five of the top social media websites. Out of all the websites, Youtube emerged at the very top and was the only website out of the five to have a score in the net positive as far as mental wellbeing of its users is concerned. Twitter took the second place and was closely followed by Facebook, which was followed by Snapchat, and then Instagram took the last spot.

The survey was conducted by the UK Royal Society for Public Health to assess the state of mental health of the population with the advent of the many social networking websites that have come about, and also with the increasing amount of time people, especially young adults, are spending on it, it became imperative to assess the impact.

The survey sample pool was derived randomly from around the UK, with participants from Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales. Respondents of the survey were required to provide feedback regarding the impact use of different social media websites have had on their mental health.

Benefits from Social Networking?

The use of social media at night, is constantly causing a decline in the quality of sleep that people are getting

Respondents, who were required to record their responses throughout February to May of last year, identified that social networking websites did have some positive effects as well, such as building a sense of community, source of emotional support, expressing the self, and establishing a stronger personality.

Youtube fared the best, and users identified that the website helped them achieve insight into problems faced by other people, helped them in times of loneliness and depression, and also a great source of information related to mental wellbeing.

Social Media Sites Impact Sleep Quality the Most

The use of social media, especially at night, is causing a decline in the quality of sleep that people are getting. The websites are addictive, and users feel compelled to check up on them before going to bed. However, this move acts to their disadvantage as the final check can last for an hour on average, which leads to sleep deprivation.

There have been studies in the past which showed how people who spend more than a couple of hours every day on social networking websites report psychological distress. This is because of the behaviour called ‘compare-and-despair’, a condition of exclusion which leads to sadness as the user feels like they are not enjoying life as much as their friends and those who they follow.

Social Media causes a feeling of inadequacy

The authors state that the use of social media causes a feeling of great inadequacy in its users, which leads to a decrease in their self-esteem. Because of such an impact, Instagram, a platform which is mostly used by people to showcase their physical fitness or their travels around the world or the luxurious food they have or pictures with friends, scored the worst.

People think young adults should be made aware of the negative impact that social media can have on their mental health

The Solution

A warning which shows up when the user spends more than the allotted number of hours on the website could help, according to the survey authors. Users also supported this move. The society also recommended that young adults should be made aware of the negative impact that social media can have on their mental health, and such awareness to be made a part of the regular curriculum in schools and universities.

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