Curated images have become a signature of Instagram; a mobile, desktop, and internet-based photo-sharing application and service that allows users to share pictures and videos either publicly or privately.
A study recently released by RSPH, Royal Society for Public Health, ranked Instagram as the worst social media app for young people’s mental health. The study surveyed about 1,500 teens and adults aged 14 to 24 to determine how certain social media platforms impact health and well-being related issues. While the photo-sharing app scored some points on self-expression and self-identity, it was however, associated with high levels of anxiety, depression and body image.
Out of the five social media networks the survey covered, YouTube received the best ranking for health and wellbeing, while Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat with Instagram taking the rear, demonstrated negative effects on overall young people’s mental health.
Lynxxx, a top a Nigerian hip-hop recording artist and entrepreneur recently posted a thought- provoking piece on his Instagram page:
The post says: “It would be a shame if your Instagram Life is of better quality than your Real Life” With a hashtag that says, “Focus On What’s Real”.
The overwhelming truth is that Social Media has totally redefined what beauty is. Instagram from the study is the worst culprit. The image-based app, housing more than 700 million users worldwide, is at the top of the list in terms of negative impact, mostly among young women.
The app has affected the psyche of our women that now they have this unrealistic, curated, fine-tuned and over exaggerated image of how they look. The filters present in these apps have made girls and women feel some discomfort about their bodies as not good enough. So, they apply filters, remove blemishes and enhance their pictures to look the way they have conjured up in their imagination.
This is a disturbing distortion of what reality is. Frustration sets in when the real image does not represent the curated version on the app. This could lead to suicide in extreme cases when the desired imaged of ourselves cannot be attained realistically.
The impact of five social media sites were evaluated in the following order:
- YouTube (the only platform with a positive net impact)
- Instagram (most negative)
The Royal Society for Public Health, in a bid to reduce this harmful effects of social media on children and young adults, is calling for social media companies to make changes. The report recommends the introduction of a pop-up “heavy usage” warning within these apps or website—something 71% of survey respondents said they’d support.
It also recommends that companies find a way to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated, as well as identify and offer help to users who could be suffering from mental health problems.
The government can also help, the report states. It calls for “safe social media use” to be taught during health education in schools, for professionals who work with youth to be trained in digital and social media and for more research to be conducted on the effects of social media on mental health.
Culled from CNN, Young people who spend more than two hours per day connecting on social networking sites are more likely to report poor mental health, including psychological distress, according to the report.
“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 the royal society, noted in the report.