Teens and young adults rarely use social media as a reflection of their true lives, so it comes as little surprise that apps like Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter actually cause users to feel worse while they strive to look better.
According to a new study by the Royal Society for Public Health (U.K.), Instagram is the social networking app most detrimental to young people’s mental health.
1,500 people between the ages of 14 and 24 were surveyed for the study, titled #StatusofMind, on the effect of social apps on young peoples’ identity, depression, anxiety, and more, CNN reports.
Instagram came out on top (or bottom, I suppose), with the most negative impact, especially among young women. The study author, Matt Keracher, argues that this is in part due to the filtered aspect of the app — both literally and in curative manipulation.
Instagram asks young women to contrast their own lives and bodies with “unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality,” Keracher explains.
Still, he does not advocate for deleting the app; for while Instagram hurts sleep patterns, fear of missing out, and body image in young people, it has strikes in the positive column for helping with identity and self-expression.
The results of this study aren’t surprising; after all, even celebrities (Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber) who fall in this age range occasionally delete the app for months at a time in the name of preserving their mental health.
The report also found that length of time plugged in matters; those who spend over two hours on social sites every day are much more likely to have poor mental health than those who spend less time scanning them.
The Royal Society for Public Health wants to address these negative symptoms by calling for a warning on digitally altered images and having alerts when young people spend too much time on one app.
What is the best social media outlet? Youtube has the most positive impact. It’s hard to feel sad after watching puppy videos, after all.