Why Instagram is the worst for your kids

Insights, advice, and recommendation for modern parents dealing with apps and social media.

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A public health education group recently studied young adults and looked at how five social media sites impacted users’ anxiety, depression, and body image. Instagram took the prize for being associated with lost sleep and emotional turmoil. Snapchat also fared poorly in the survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health, but what dragged Instagram down was its ability to fuel loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Four of five respondents surveyed said social media worsened their anxiety.  A must read from our MPP Community Experts.

Why Instagram is the worst for your kids

A public health education group recently looked at how five social media sites impacted users’ anxiety, depression, and body image. Video provided by Newsy Newslook.

By Patrick Anderson (article)

Social media gives Sioux Falls’ youth a way to share photos and ideas with the world, but their favorite apps could also be a source of sleep deprivation and emotional turmoil.

And Instagram is the worst.

That’s according to a report this week from the United Kingdom-based health education charity, which surveyed young adults and asked them to compare five different tools.

“You really miss an important piece of somebody’s perspective,” said Celeste Uthe-Burow, student support services coordinator for the Sioux Falls School District. “It’s very isolating.”

WHY INSTAGRAM IS BAD: Snapchat also fared poorly in the survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health, but what dragged Instagram down was its ability to fuel loneliness, depression and anxiety.

Another side-effect reported by Instagram users was the platform’s reinforcement of negative body image.

HABITS OF YOUTH: Children, teens and young adults are more likely to use social media, and more likely to spend hours of their day posting and scrolling through feeds.

This daily use of social media exposes young minds to constant comparison with unreal expectations, said Dr. Matt Stanley, a psychiatrist for Avera Behavioral Health.

“What our children are exposed to at an earlier age has changed dramatically over the last decade and a half,” Stanley said.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND MENTAL HEALTH: Four of five responders surveyed said social media worsened their anxiety. Research shows heavy users of social media are more likely to report psychological distress, according to the report.

It’s fine for teens to use social media in moderation, but problems with harassment and other negative side effects arise with overuse, said Katie Heavlin, a counselor at Roosevelt High School.

 “I think it’s a great way to connect with people, but we get obsessed with it,” Heavlin said.

WHAT THE STUDY DID: The study looked at the influence of five social media platforms on teens and young 20-somethings: Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Using survey responses from 1,479 people surveyed, the Royal Society for Public Health found that Youtube was the only platform that scored with a net positive effect on the mental health. However, each of the five platforms scored low in terms of their influence on a person’s sleep.

Sleep deprivation can be harmful to mental health, especially in teens. Brain development isn’t finished in young adults and teens, who need extra rest to function adequately.

HOW IT MEASURED GOOD VERSUS BAD: In addition to sleep, the survey asked survey respondents to score each of the five social media platforms across 14 different categories.

Each survey-taker marked a score based on a tool’s effect on:

  • Awareness
  • Access
  • Emotional support
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Sleep
  • Self-expression
  • Self-identity
  • Body image
  • Real world relationships
  • Community building
  • Bullying
  • Fear of missing out

Youtube was the only platform to score net positive across all categories.

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