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Instagram 'worst for young mental health'

19 May 2017

The organisations also said platforms such as Facebook should highlight when photos have been airbrushed - a move supported by more than two-thirds of young people. Among the five only YouTube was judged to have a positive impact.

Participants were asked to score each platform on 14 health and well-being issues.

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Both Snapchat and Instagram were considered to have the most negative impact on their health and well-being, according to Royal Society for Public Health's (RSPH) study.

"For young people, using social media and digital technologies as a tool to help with mental health make sense for many reasons", said Becky Inkster, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge in the UK.

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In its report the RSPH said that its findings should serve as a wake-up call to providers as to how extended social media use can aggravate psychological problems by "fueling a mental health crisis".

That's according to a new survey of around 300 influencers by social media marketing firm Hashoff, which maintains an opt-in network of more than 150,000 influencers.

YouTube scored very badly for its impact on sleep but positively in nine of the 14 categories, notably awareness and understanding of other people's health experience, self-expression, loneliness, depression and emotional support.

Shirley Cramer, RSPH's CEO, said: "Social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves, and learn about the world around us; it is intrinsically linked to mental health".

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

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Social media is constantly evolving and new sites are regularly emerging; however, it is expected that the longer-standing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter will continue to dominate, particularly in relation to the pharmaceutical industry.

Some influencers take a considerable amount of time to create their best posts, but for others it's a relatively quick affair, Hashoff found, with 26.2% saying they can create a high-quality post in ten to 30 minutes, while 25.9% said it takes 30 to 60 minutes, and 25.9% said it takes one to three hours, and 16.3% said it takes more than three hours.

"Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Social Media in Pharma". "It's also important to recognise that simply "protecting" young people from particular content types can never be the whole solution".

"For those struggling with mental health issues, we want them to be able to access support on Instagram when and where they need it".

Parents and mental health experts fear that platforms such as Instagram can make young users feel anxious and inadequate by facilitating hostile comments about their appearance or reminding them that they have not been invited to, for example, a party many of their peers are attending.

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Instagram 'worst for young mental health'