Facebook documents show that Instagram is harmful to teenagers. Multiple studies have been conducted by the social media giant and all have come to this same conclusion for the past few years. And while Facebook has been well aware of the alarming mental heath problems that Instagram causes, it has done nothing to try to remedy the situation, allowing it to fester and become worse instead.
The Wall Street Journal reviewed internal documents provided to the news outlet by Facebook, according to Psychology Today. Among those documents was a slide show that was presented to the company in 2019, which detailed facts about how Instagram negatively affects teens, specifically teenage girls.
Among the slides discovered, were some very troubling facts about the impact Instagram has on body image, worth, and mental health in teen girls.
“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” one slide read, per The Wall Street Journal.
Another stated, “Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” a second slide showed.
And most disturbing of all was that as a result of spending time on Instagram, “13 percent of British users and 6 percent of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram.”
Despite executives, including Mark Zuckerberg, having this information and trying to do something to change the platform so that it was not detrimental on so many levels to teens, nothing has changed. Instead, the algorithm Facebook has successfully used and consequently, Instagram, to provide users with similar pages that might be of interest based upon search results, continues to bombard teens with images that do nothing but tear them down.
This happens, according to Psychology Today, because a lot of the keyword searches that teen girls use revolve around “health” or “beauty” or “diet.” As such, what they are consistently shown in their feed are the latest fad diets, images of people that are altered, and more that make them feel like they are not good enough.
What makes Instagram riskier to teens than Facebook, according to The Conversation is the fact that both celebrities and people that teens know can filter their world through rose-colored glasses and give the appearance that they have a perfect life. Unfortunately, what teens do not understand is that social media allows users to present to the public what they want them to see versus reality. And in an attempt to keep up with a reality that does not exist, teens are paying for it with their mental health.
As a result of these findings becoming public, lawmakers publicly admonished Facebook, Instagram, and Zuckerberg himself for not doing enough to protect teens. And because of this, according to CNBC, there have been demands from those in elected office for the development of Instagram for children to be stopped until the current model of Instagram can be modified to no longer prey on the insecurities of teenage girls.
What these documents going public means for the future of Instagram is uncertain. But given that 40 percent of Instagram’s users are 22 years and younger, according to The Wall Street Journal, something needs to be done and fast before the mental wellbeing of teenage girls has been completely broken, all because of spending time on social media.
Instagram has announced that they are hiding “like counts” from some followers as a test to create “a less pressurized environment”
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