How many times a day do you peer down at your phone to scroll through your Instagram feed? Chances are that oftentimes you look when you yourself aren't doing something very interesting (waiting for public transportation, watching a TV show that doesn't have your full attention, curled up in bed), and on your screen you see an endless stream of people doing fabulous things, taking incredible vacations, eating the healthiest food. FOMO is activated and envy is too, not to mention perfectionism. Should it then come as any surprise that a new study found that Instagram has the potential to cause detrimental emotional effects?
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The report, done by the UK's Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Young Health Movement, surveyed 1,500 people between the ages of 14 to 24 to see how their social media use impacted their mental health with particular focus on body image, self-identity, anxiety, and depression. The finding was, in short, that Instagram has the strongest detrimental effect, followed by Snapchat and Facebook.
So why is Instagram the worst of the lot, you ask? Because Instagram is all about perfection. As a quote from a young person in the study reads, "Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren't good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look 'perfect'." The 'perfect' quality can be carried into all the many parts of life that are displayed on Instagram.
But the researchers have solutions. They are recommending pop ups to appear when you've been on social media for a particularly long amount of time (just to make the user aware of exactly how long they've been on the platform), as well as disclaimers to be present when a photograph has been digitally manipulated.
While that may sound like a tall order right now, this is a reminder to get out of your scroll-hole. A quick social media check every now and again is not a bad thing, but measuring yourself up to manipulated images and perfectly staged shots is only going to make you feel bad.