General News Research Technology — 24 May 2017
Instagram has earned the title of the worst social media app for mental health in young people.

As part of a UK-based survey of almost 1500 residents aged between 14 and 24, participants were asked to rank five popular social media platforms on which one had the most negative effect, regarding anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and body image.

BBS News reports that the Royal Society for Public Health, who conducted the study alongside the Youth Health Movement, has since issued a dire warning, urging platforms to consider users’ mental health issues.

“Social media may be fuelling the mental health crisis in young people,” the RSPH report said, before highlighting about 90 percent of young people use social media platforms.

Snapchat ranked the second worst for mental health and wellbeing, likely because both platforms are very “image focused”.

“As the evidence grows that there may be potential harms from heavy use of social media, and as we upgrade the status of mental health within society, it is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a ‘wild West’ when it comes to young people’s mental health and well-being,” chief executive at the RSPH Shirley Cramer said.

Health experts are suggesting social media-giants implement a few simply tips and tricks to ensure they work towards preserving the mental wellbeing of young people.

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.

Secondly they suggest social media platforms be designed to identified if a user has mental health problems before “discreetly” highlighting a place they can seek help.

And lastly, sites should be made to indicate whenever an image has been digitally enhanced or altered.

Facebook ranked third, Twitter fourth and YouTube in fifth, from most to least damaging.

This piece was originally published on ‘Eyewitness News’ May 19 2017.


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