Social media bad for young people's mental health

Barsaba Taglieri
Mag 20, 2017

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

Sky News reports that the Royal Society for Public Health surveyed about 1,500 people in the United Kingdom between the ages of 14-24.

The Royal Society for Public Health in collaboration with Young Health Movement published a report called #StatusOfMind, which examines the positive and negative effects of social media on young people's health.

Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook were reported to be similarly damaging, with only YouTube ranked as having an overall positive influence on young people's lives.

The Royal Society for Public Health and the charity Young Health Movement conducted a survey in the first few months of 2017 of nearly 1,500 young people (aged between 14 and 24) in Britain surrounding their social media usage.

The study also made various suggestions for the sites to address these issues, such as warning users on heavy social media usage, and providing support to users with their photoshopped images aimed at bullying.

'Comparing ourselves to images on social media could be particularly harmful because it involves comparing the behind-the-scenes of our own lives with the highlights reels of everyone else's.

Snapchat, the ephemeral photo messaging app, was also seen as a close contender, and most likely to leave users feeling bullied or left out by their peers.

Instagram said that it remains dedicated to keeping the platform a "safe and supportive place" for users, and added that it is working closely with experts to enhance the app to provide mental health support.

'This practice is contributing to a generation of young people with poor body image and body confidence'.

All five platforms were praised by those polled for offering somewhere to find emotional support and to build a community, while YouTube was ranked as the best place to visit to gain awareness about other people's health experiences.

A United Kingdom survey has suggested that Instagram is the worst social media platform in relation to its impact on the mental health of young people.

Dr Becky Inkster, honorary research fellow, University of Cambridge, said: "Young people sometimes feel more comfortable talking about personal issues online".

Firstly, they say platforms should have pop up warnings, telling the user that they've been on the app or site for a long period of time.

More young people use social media than any other age group, with 90 per cent of young people active across the various platforms. Such tools include education on how to report content, how to directly contact an expert for advice on an issue, how to get support for a friend, etc.

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