Instagram Rated As The 'Worst For Young Mental Health'

The social media platform has the most negative impact on users, a health group claims

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A new poll has been published that suggests Instagram might not be doing a kindness to young people's brains.

According to the Royal Society for Public Health, the photo sharing site has negative implications for younger users and can put them at risk of suffering loneliness, depression and body image anxiety.

The RSPH report suggests that "social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis" in young people (via the BBC).

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Their warning comes following the results of a survey which asked 1,479 people aged 14-24 to score apps on issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and body image.

The young people taking part were asked to consider issues including emotional support, depression, sleep, self-expression, anxiety, body image, community building and bullying.

Instagram rated the worst, having the poorest impact on sleep, body image, fear of missing out, bullying and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. It was followed by Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and then YouTube.

However, all is not bad, because Instagram was voted the best app for self-expression, self-identity and emotional support.

Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive, of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: "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.

"As the evidence grows that there may be potential harms from heavy use of social media, and as we upgrade the status of mental health within society, it is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young people's mental health and wellbeing."

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told The Guardian: "I am sure that social media plays a role in unhappiness, but it has as many benefits as it does negatives.

"We need to teach children how to cope with all aspects of social media - good and bad - to prepare them for an increasingly digitised world.

"There is real danger in blaming the medium for the message."

Instagram has more than 600 million active monthly users.

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