A recent study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK looked at how social media affects people's mental health. The study, involving 1,500 people 14 to 24 years old, found that Instagram was the most harmful of the social media options.
Other results of the study include:
- Young women were the most influenced by the negative impact of Instagram. They compared their own bodies to the edited and filtered pictures, feeling like their own bodies did not measure up.
- Negative sleep patterns and the fear of missing out (FOMO) were other negative results of social media use.
- Those who spent more than two hours a day on social media were more likely to experience higher levels of poor mental well-being.
- Despite its potentially negative influence on people, Instagram was found to provide a positive outlet for self-expression and self-identity.
- While Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter were also found to have a negative impact on the participants, YouTube was found to have an overall positive influence.
While social media does have the potential to have a negative influence on people's emotional well-being and other aspects of their health, several potential solutions were suggested. First, realize that people's social media presence is a highly filtered version of their lives. People choose to post only the aspects of their lives that they want others to see. Along with that, some photos have been Photoshopped or otherwise altered to present an unrealistic view of the individual. Matt Keracher, author of the study, suggested that people should let others know when a photo has been altered.
A second suggestion was to have a “heavy user” message pop-up when someone has been online for too long. Unfortunately, some experts do not believe the message would be enough to encourage people to get offline. Perhaps, self-regulation is a better solution. Limit your daily time on social media, especially if you find yourself negatively influenced by it.
To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Mental Health section of our blog.
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