And the Winner is…..

social_mediaIt’s one of those lists where reaching the top spot, being number one, is NOT a good thing. Researchers in Europe just released a study ranking the worst apps for the mental health of young people and the results may surprise you.

From CNBC.com:

Instagram is the most damaging social media platform when it comes to young people’s mental health, new research suggests.

The photo-sharing app, which is owned by Facebook and has 700 million users worldwide, is considered the social media platform most likely to cause young people to feel depressed, anxious and lonely, according to a U.K.-wide study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) released Friday.

In a survey of almost 1,500 Britons aged 14 to 24, the RSPH found that young people were most likely to associate Instagram with negative attributes and low self-esteem, resulting in poor body image and lack of sleep.

Snapchat finished just behind Instagram as the second worst ranked app and one of the study’s authors, Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive at RSPH, told Yahoo.com, “It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”

Overall, five social media platforms were used in the study. 1,500 young people, from across the United Kingdom were surveyed. Each was asked to score how the social media platforms they use impacts 14 health and wellbeing-related issues, which were deemed by experts to be the most significant such as depressions, anxiety, loneliness, and FOMO (fear of missing out).

Here’s a look at the rankings from the most negative to the most positive.

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

According to CNN.com:

Instagram draws young women to “compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality,” Matt Keracher, author of the report, told CNN.
“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,’ ” an anonymous female respondent said in the report.
BBC.com added, “The RSPH report says that “social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis” in young people.
Business Insider listed several recommendations found in the report that could help ease the anxiety of young social media users, including:
  • Introducing a pop up when users over indulge in social media
  • Getting social media companies to identify children that might be suffering from mental health problems by monitoring their posts
  • Tasking social media companies with flagging images that have been digitally manipulated.

This is a particularly important topic to talk about this month as May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the study and whether you believe there are other things we can do here in Arizona to help young people cope with the mental health and wellbeing issues that some social media apps could be causing. Working with our partners to find innovative solutions to the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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