While social media platforms are proving out to be a boon for business owners, on the other end, it is leaving a negative effect on teenagers. We all knew it, but now we have numbers to prove the fact.
According to a study conducted by Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in the UK, Instagram is the most detrimental social networking app for young people’s mental health, followed closely by Snapchat.
The researchers conducted a survey of nearly 1,500 people between the ages of 14 and 24 across the UK. The participants were asked to score how each social media platform they use impacts upon 14 well-being and health-related issues like depression, body image and anxiety which experts have identified as being significant.
Based on their findings, YouTube topped the table, followed by Twitter and Facebook. Snapchat and Instagram were found to have the most negative impact on mental health.
YouTube was the only social media platform that demonstrated an overall positive impact on young people’s mental health in the study.
“Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues,” said Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive at RSPH.
Cramer further added, “It is interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and well-being – both platforms are very image-focused, and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”
While Instagram was noted to affect body image, sleep patterns negatively, the image app was also a positive outlet for self-expression and self-identity for many of its young users, as per the report.
“They need to think about where their audiences are, what they are reading, what they are doing,” says Kenneth Hitchner, public relations and social media director for Creative Marketing Alliance, which is based in Princeton Junction, New Jersey. “If you are marketing to seniors, you’re not going to be using the latest social media app like Snapchat because the audience isn’t there — just like if you are marketing to teens you probably aren’t going to use something like LinkedIn.”
Provided suggestions to overcome the social media addiction, the study is “now calling for action from government and social media companies to help promote the positive aspects of social media for young people, whilst mitigating the potential negatives.”
The suggestions include an introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media platforms, and they should also identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts.