As a grown-ass adult, I personally think Twitter is the worst social media app — only because it reminds me that the world is full of people who are way more witty and hilarious than I will ever be. *Sighs, slumps on table*
But the Royal Society for Public Health surveyed almost 1,500 young people — ages 14 to 24 — to see how different social media apps are affecting their sense of self. And the subsequent report, titled #StatusofMind, said that the very worst app for young adults’ mental health is Instagram, the mega-popular photo-sharing platform — not Twitter.
Most notably? Instagram was most detrimental to young women — with Snapchat sneaking in as a very close second.
But why? Is it the glossy filters, the airbrushed bikini bodies, the perfect couples, the amazing food shots or the vacations to far-off exotic destinations? Our guess: all of these things.
The RSPH is encouraging Instagram and other apps to introduce pop-up warnings to help identify users who may be struggling with mental health problems, and — perhaps controversially — highlight when pictures of people have been manipulated, edited or filtered digitally.
“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,” Matt Keracher, the author of the report, said to CNN. “We really want to equip young people with the tools and the knowledge to be able to navigate social media platforms — not only in a positive way, but in a way that promotes good mental health.”
But is it just all social media that’s a problem for young people when it comes to self-esteem? We were surprised to learn that the report says no. Apparently, YouTube ranks highest for improving young adults’ self-esteem — a very surprising finding to us.
The report also provided a sobering window into the amount of time young people spend on social media daily. Brace yourself: 91 percent of 14- to 24-year-olds are spending more than two hours a day on their apps (we have to say, we think that’s a pretty conservative estimate).
How did Instagram respond? Well, reps for the app say they want to ensure that the platform is a safe and supportive place for everyone.
“Every day people from all over the world use Instagram to share their own mental health journey and get support from the community. For those struggling with mental health issues, we want them to be able to access support on Instagram when and where they need it,” Michelle Napchan, Instagram head of public policy, said to the BBC.
“That’s why we work in partnership with experts to give people the tools and information they need while using the app,” she added, “including how to report content, get support for a friend they are worried about, or directly contact an expert to ask for advice on an issue they may be struggling with.”