Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Instagram 'ranked worst for young people's mental health'

Instagram 'ranked worst for young people's mental health'

Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people's mental health, followed closely by Snapchat, according to a new report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in the UK. Those participants rated Instagram the most negatively when it came to feelings relating to loneliness, depression, body image, bullying and its impact on sleep.

"Platforms that are supposed to help young people connect with each other may actually be fueling a mental health crisis", Shirley Cramer, chief executive of RSPH noted in the report.

'It is then up to the user to decide if they carry on using the platform or stop, although the warning may provide links to information and advice on social media addiction, ' reads the report.

Professional YouTuber Laci Green, a health vlogger with 1.5 million subscribers said that education surrounding mental health issues in a digital age is an educational imperative for young people.

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Snapchat, the ephemeral photo messaging app, was also seen as a close contender, and most likely to leave users feeling bullied or left out by their peers. "With social media being such a new phenomenon, the exact effect it is having on the mental health, emotional wellbeing and physiology of young people is now unclear".

Michelle Napchan, head of policy at Instagram said that keeping the app a "safe and supportive place" is its "top priority - especially when it comes to young people".

The findings fall in line with Irish trends with 72pc of young people citing body image as a main cause of stress and 43pc citing social media as a main cause of stress, according to a study conducted by ReachOut Ireland this year.

'This practice is contributing to a generation of young people with poor body image and body confidence'. "We need to support young people so they understand the risks of how they behave online, and are empowered to make sense of and know how to respond to harmful content that slips through filters". Both Facebook and Twitter scored well on self-expression and community building, but they were found to lead to bullying and depression.

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Cycling through Instagram for hours every day certainly doesn't help, as the study also found that young people who spend more than two hours per day on social media sites report more mental health issues.

The new study is calling for pop-up heavy usage warnings which would alert users when they've reached a unsafe level of time on an app. Researchers found about 70 percent of young people support the idea of pop-up warnings.

With social media's global presence showing little signs of abating, the RSPH has called on companies to do more to tackle its adverse effects of young people and has issued a series of recommendations.

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