Instagram Named The Worst Social Media Platform For Young People's Mental Health

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Speaking about the report, Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Public Health, said social media "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".

In a survey of nearly 1,500 people aged 14 to 24, they found that young people were most likely to associate Instagram with negative attributes and low self-esteem, resulting in poor body image and lack of sleep.

Snapchat was found to be the second most harmful network, followed by Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

"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".

The organisation is becoming increasingly concerned that social media is fuelling soaring rates of anxiety, depression and sleeplessness in teenagers and young adults. It might help improve psychoeducation, increase self-awareness of mental health and act as a preventative measure.

The young people taking part were asked to consider issues including emotional support, depression, sleep, self-expression, anxiety, body image, community building and bullying.

The survey also found that seven in 10 people questioned supported introducing pop-ups on sites such as Twitter and Facebook to warn users about heavy usage.

The findings were based on a survey of almost 1,500 young people aged 14-24 from across the UK.

"As such, when seeing others though social media it's natural to make assumptions about how their life might be and you might believe that they, and others, are all having a great time while you are missing out".

"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", Keracher said.

Based on the ratings given to each platform for the health and wellbeing-related issues, the five most popular platforms were given a net average score. However, it was considered the most detrimental to young people's sleeping patterns.

The report also recommends that NHS England comes up with a vetting scheme for health and well-being information so young people are better able to judge whether information is trustworthy.

Cutteridge however doesn't think young people will pay attention to these warnings and said adults can help. "That's why we work in partnership with experts to give people the tools and information they need while using the app, including how to report content, get support for a friend they are anxious about or directly contact an expert to ask for advice on an issue they may be struggling with".

The four platforms have a negative effect because they can exacerbate children's and young people's body image worries, and worsen bullying, sleep problems and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness, the participants said.

"But it's also important to recognise that simply "protecting" young people from particular content types can never be the whole solution".

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