What’s the problem with Instagram, anyway? It’s just a social media platform where users can share square-shaped photos with their friends and family. At least, that’s how it was when the app was founded back in 2010.
In a leaked study by Meta Platforms (formerly known as Facebook), research showed that Instagram causes low self-esteem and increases body image issues for teenage girls. Based on findings from 2019 and 2020, it’s proven that the company is aware of Instagram’s negative impact on mental health for teenagers, the article continues. However, Meta Platforms continued to downplay the product’s harm to teenagers publicly, the article goes on.
Back in March of this year, Meta Platforms’ Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg, stated that social media was more likely to have positive effects on mental health, according to The Guardian. Later in May, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said he found research that suggested Instagram had little negative impact on teenagers’ mental health, the article continues. Those were all lies.
One internal report suggested that Instagram advises users to create a “perfect storm” where they are pressured to share their best moments and look picture perfect, the article continues. As a result, teenagers could develop depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders, the article goes on.
Meta Platforms keeps ignoring the problem with Instagram, hoping that the impact will hurt less over time. But with the lack of mental health resources, help may come too late for some Instagram users.
Individuals can also gain suicidal thoughts, the article continues. Findings showed that 13 percent of users in the U.K. and 6 percent of users in the U.S. reported suicidal thoughts, the article goes on. Suicide is no joke. It not only changes the individual’s life, but it also changes their friends’ and families’ lives once the decision has been made.
Facebook’s internal research mirrors a number of studies that suggest social media causes numerous mental health problems among young people, the article goes on.
Similar Studies Prove That Instagram Is Harmful to Teenagers
In 2017, YoungMinds and the Royal Society for Public Health conducted a survey that suggests Instagram causes the most damaging effects on one’s mental health and well-being. The survey, which included about 1,500 14 to 24-year-olds, concluded that the app deepens young people’s feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, the article continues.
Participants said that Instagram, along with Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter, can worsen young people’s body image worries, bullying, sleep problems, and feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness, the article goes on.
Due to Meta Platforms ignoring internal research about the dangers of Instagram towards younger ones, a group of state attorneys general is taking matters into their own hands, according to TIME. The group is currently investigating Instagram and the harmful effects it has on teenagers, the article continues.
Using past reports and leaked documents, the investigation targets the techniques that Meta uses to keep younger ones on its platforms, as well as the harms that extended time on Instagram can cause, the article continues.
Coincidentally, Ohio’s largest public employee pension fund sued Meta Platforms, saying that it purposely misled the public about the negative effects of its social platforms and the algorithms that run them, according to AP News.
The Harsh Reality of Instagram
Girls like Destinee experienced some of those negative effects themselves. She was 13-years-old when she created her first Instagram account in 2012, according to TIME.
Destinee quickly discovered the tips and tricks of how Instagram works, the article continues. If she used more than one filter on a photo, then she received more likes, the article goes on. If she showed more skin, then she received more comments, the article continues.
Destinee eventually developed a fear of rejection and uneasiness due to trying to live up to Instagram’s overwhelming standards, the article continues. “She would stare at her screen for hours after uploading one picture, anxious about the reaction she would receive and whether people would approve of her,” the article says.
At age 22, Destinee was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, the article continues. The reason why she decided to seek help from a doctor finally was an Instagram post she made about losing her father, the article goes on. She edited the caption back and forward, trying to come up with an optimistic tone that would please her followers, the article continues.
Destinee’s doctor said that the key factor to her diagnosis was the pressure she felt to be someone other than her authentic self, the article goes on.
Even celebrities took note of Instagram’s harm towards teenagers (and everyone overall). Back in 2015, Ed Sheeran took a year-long break from the platform to focus on himself and his music, according to Slice.ca.
“I’ve had such an amazing ride over the last five years, but I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes, so I’m taking this opportunity of me not having to be anywhere or do anything to travel the world and see everything I missed,” Sheeran posts on his Facebook account.
2015 seems so long ago because it was before Instagram Stories, IGTV, and Instagram Reels became a thing. Instagram Stories was launched in 2016, IGTV was established in 2018, and Instagram Reels were launched in 2020.
Selena Gomez has always been upfront about leaving social media to focus on her well-being. Gomez often deletes Instagram from her phone at least once a week, a previous source says.
“I would say for my generation, specifically, social media has really been terrible. It does scare me when you see how exposed these young boys and young girls are. They are not aware of the news or anything going on. I think that’s dangerous for sure,” Gomez tells Los Angeles Times.
Tips for Moving Forward
Before COVID-19, I spent hours on Instagram because I used to take the bus to and from school. Once the pandemic hit, I stopped going on Instagram as often, and I don’t even go on it every day anymore. Stepping away from the app once in a while could be a possible solution to minimize Instagram’s harm.
Another important thing to remember is that everyone is different and unique from one another. No matter how hard one may try to look like someone else, they will never look exactly like them. So, if a friend posts a selfie on Instagram, don’t get discouraged because it’s not worth it comparing oneself to that person.