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Mental health disorders, depression and eating disorders. How Instagram affects children and adolescents


The journalists conducted an investigation and found out that the social network Instagram can cause mental disorders in adolescents. Such conclusions were made in Facebook itself: the company organized a series of internal reports and studies that it did not plan to publish. But the authors of the investigation were able to find this data and share it with the public.

The Wall Street Journal investigated internal Facebook reports according to which social networks, in particular Instagram, cause depression, eating disorders and dissatisfaction with their appearance in teens. The platform also promotes violent, provocative publications and does not cope with the moderation of criminal content.

Where does the information come from that Instagram has such an impact on children and adolescents?

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook conducted special internal research on the impact of the social network on different groups of the population.

The reports were not going to be published in open sources, as their results revealed that the social network is causing serious harm to mental health, especially of adolescent girls.

What is revealed from internal Facebook reports?

Facebook executives and representatives have repeatedly stated that social media helps them find new friends, communicate on various interesting topics, and also cope with psychological difficulties.

But according to The Wall Street Journal, the company’s management knows that in reality, their platforms negatively affect teens and cause them mental disorders.

We are talking specifically about “Instagram” – this platform is focused on a person’s appearance, body and social status. Therefore, adolescents constantly compare themselves with popular users: this provokes problems with self-esteem, complexes and RPP.

During an internal study, Facebook analysts found that users on the social network are overly sexualized, and the indicator of success is the number of likes under a photo or the number of views under a video. Therefore, teenagers feel that they are not popular enough and are worried about it.

How does social media affect adolescent mental health?

Every third teenage girl begins to perceive her body worse due to viewing accounts on Instagram.

According to internal reports for 2020, Instagram negatively affects 40% of teenage boys who compare themselves to other more popular users, and 32% of teenage girls feel worse after signing up to the social network.

Also, Facebook previously surveyed teens from the US and UK who use the social network. According to the results, it turned out that of the total number of respondents who feel unattractive, 40% blamed Instagram for it.

Moreover, adolescents began to have suicidal thoughts after they began to actively use the social network. This was stated by 13% of respondents from the UK and 6% from the United States.

According to a 2019 study, Instagram was the trigger for depression and anxiety in adolescents. This tendency was noted in all surveyed groups. Despite the negative consequences, the teenagers said that it was hard for them to stop using Instagram. They called it addiction.

Promoting violent and criminal content, what else is the social network accused of?

In addition to influencing teenagers, the social network is accused of promoting violent content and knowingly false information.

Earlier in 2018, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company has changed the algorithms for serving content and users will see less extraneous information.

But it turned out the other way around, posts of news resources and political parties continued to appear in the recommendations and the feed. In order for as many people as possible to pay attention to the information, these posts contained provocative statements and viral content. As a result, the amount of aggression increased and the amount of deliberately false information increased.

In addition, today the company Facebook does not moderate its content carefully enough, the authors of The Wall Street Journal said. For example, on sites that distribute content in a language other than English, criminal activity may occur, but the moderators do not block the resource.

The authors of the investigation argue that the content is poorly tracked outside the US, UK and Canada, as the company does not have foreign administrators to verify the information.

The impact of social media is still a poorly understood topic. Major platforms make global internal reports to assess development trends, but do not publish them publicly. Because of this, we cannot assess the harm that, for example, Instagram does to an adult or a teenager.