A recent study done by the RSPH and Young Health Movement called #StatusOfMind has found that out of the five social platforms that they looked at- Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube- Instagram is by far the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Instagram negatively impacts young people by causing dissatisfaction with one’s body image, poor sleep hygiene, fear of missing out (FOMO) which can cause feelings of inadequacy, bullying, increased levels of anxiety and depression, and feelings of loneliness.
Instagram has been found to be particularly detrimental to young women’s mental health and well-being, since it often causes women to compare themselves to unrealistic versions of reality. One of the survey respondents stated that “instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’.”
Other research has found that Instagram is also linked to orthorexia nervosa-which is the obsession with eating healthy and maintaining a healthy lifestyle- and other eating disorders. The constant photos of thin-ideal media, ‘fitspiration’ and healthy meals from food accounts on Instagram can cause feelings of inadequacy and therefore lead to orthorexia. Viewing all of this media can in turn have negative effects like malnutrition.
Overall Instagram for the most part is bad news when it comes to mental health. Research shows that spending more than an hour a day on Instagram, can directly impact your mental health and wellbeing. Note that even though Instagram is the most detrimental to our mental health and well-being, there are many other social media platforms that follow closely behind Instagram- such as Snapchat. Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the Royal Society, understands the negative effects of social media well and states that these “platforms that are supposed to help young people connect with each other may actually be fueling a mental health crisis.”
If you feel as if Instagram is negatively affecting your life, you may be in the need for a digital detox. You would be surprised at how spending less time on Instagram can greatly improve your life.