Social media and mental health have become increasingly significant topics in recent years, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Extensive research has shown that excessive use of social media platforms, particularly Facebook, can lead to feelings of depression. In turn, this can lead to the need for mental health treatment.
However, Facebook can’t shoulder all the blame. A recent study has revealed that Instagram actually has the most detrimental impact on mental health. With a massive user base worldwide (predominantly composed of younger individuals), this immensely popular photo and video-sharing app is contributing to feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness among young people. Snapchat closely follows as the second most harmful platform, trailed by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Image-Focused Apps and Self-Esteem
The study focused on nearly 1,500 young individuals aged 14 to 24 in the United Kingdom who actively use these social media apps. The findings are truly eye-opening. Instagram has been linked to low self-esteem and negative body image. Conversely, Snapchat leaves users feeling excluded and subjected to bullying. Both of these apps primarily rely on visual content. As a result, it appears that the constant exposure to “selfies” and other visuals is causing young people to experience a sense of inadequacy and anxiety.
In response to these concerns, Instagram claims to be diligently working toward creating a safe and supportive environment within its app. They are even collaborating with mental health experts to provide assistance to individuals struggling with depression. Their goal is to offer tools and information that allow users to report concerning content or seek help when needed.
Social Media, Envy and Multiple Apps
Previous studies have consistently shown that spending excessive time on social media is associated with a higher likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms. In fact, research indicates that individuals who spend more time on multiple social media platforms concurrently face an even greater risk.
This issue arises from the fact that social media often presents idealized versions of other people’s lives. In turn, this leads to feelings of envy and the false perception that others have it better. Moreover, the excessive use of multiple apps simultaneously not only amplifies anxiety levels but also impairs attention span, making it more challenging to focus on important tasks. Therefore, it is crucial to:
- Be mindful of our social media usage
- Establish a healthy balance to safeguard our mental well-being
Cyber-Bullying and Depression
It’s not solely envy and multitasking that pose a concern. Cyberbullying remains a major issue, particularly among young individuals. Negative experiences online significantly contribute to the risk of depression. Not surprisingly, it’s platforms such as Facebook and Twitter that are the most problematic in terms of bullying incidents. Negative comments and interactions can severely impact the self-esteem of young social media users.
Instagram is often praised for allowing self-expression. However, it ironically has the most detrimental impact on mental health compared to other platforms. The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) expresses deep concern regarding the negative effects these apps have on young people struggling with anxiety and depression. The RSPH is urging companies to do two important things:
- Take greater action in combatting these effects
- Safeguard the well-being of teenagers and young adults
The RSPH has put forth several recommendations to minimize the adverse impact of social media. They propose implementing pop-up warnings to remind users of extended app usage and suggesting that photos be labeled as digitally enhanced to counteract body image issues. The adoption of these recommendations by Instagram remains uncertain. The RSPH believes that social media apps can be utilized to raise awareness about mental health issues and then to effectively communicate with young people who are affected by them.
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Are you or a loved one struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue? If so, it’s crucial to seek professional help. At Seasons in Malibu, we provide high-quality mental health treatment services. Moreover, we incorporate leading-edge therapies and techniques tailored to your unique needs.
Our experienced team of experts is dedicated to helping you achieve lasting recovery and improved well-being. Contact us today at 424.235.2009 to learn more about our programs and how we can help you on your journey toward greater mental wellness.