Here comes a caution for all Instagrammers out there! The image uploading app has turned out to be the worst among social networks and it takes a major toll on the user's mental health, says a report published by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. The study was among five social networking platforms—Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube—and Instagram has turned out to be the worst for mental health.
The study, #StatusofMind, was conducted among 1500 people aged 14-23 from across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland about issues like anxiety, depression, and body image. Among the social site, YouTube was rated as the most positive one while Instagram was found to create a comparative complex in the minds of the users—especially among women as they tend to compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and photoshopped versions of reality.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, 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."
"As the evidence grows that there may be potential harms from heavy use of social media, and as we upgrade the status of mental health within society, it is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young people's mental health and wellbeing. 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," he added.
As a solution to the problem, RSPH has suggested social networking sites take necessary actions by placing a warning on the images that have been digitally altered so that users will not feel inadequate or anxious. "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," said Matt Keracher, author of the report.
The RSPH report also concluded that it aims to empower young adults to use social networks protectively to avoid any negative impact on their health and wellbeing. "Social media isn't going away soon, nor should it. We must be ready to nurture the innovation that the future holds," it added.