Most of us social media users are aware it’s not a good idea to be drawn in too much by the “perfect lifestyle,” “perfect body” illusions that Instagram throws at us on a daily basis. Doing so often leads to a lack of satisfaction and disappointment in ourselves, so it’s always a good idea to know when to time out from the platform.
Various slides from multiple presentations from past research laid bare the harm done. “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” openly declared one 2019 slide.
“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” the presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board continued. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
If this doesn’t sound bad enough, the findings get worse. According to a different presentation, Facebook’s researchers had discovered that among young people who struggle with suicidal thoughts, 13% of British teens and 6% of American teens felt that the source of these thoughts of self-destruction was none other than Instagram.
WSJ‘s story is accompanied by the testimony of one Anastasia Vlasova from Virginia, who signed up to the social media platform at 13. Not long after, she found herself consuming unrealistic body images and ideals a full three hours a day. By 18, Anastasia was in therapy struggling with an eating disorder.
While back in May, Adam Mosseri (head of Instagram) had reported that Instagram’s negative effects on young teens was actually “quite small,” he seems to have turned over a new leaf after these new findings became public.
“I’ve been pushing very hard for us to embrace our responsibilities more broadly,” Mosseri insisted recently. “For me, this isn’t dirty laundry. I’m actually very proud of this research,”
It remains to be seen whether or not initiatives will be taken in the coming future to actually change these statistics. Making these findings public about the reality of Instagram’s effect on young people would be a start, for certain.