A new study lends credence to what you’ve probably always suspected: social media is having a pretty negative effect on teenagers — Instagram and Snapchat being the worst culprits.
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The study, published today and called “Status of Mind,” was conducted by researchers for the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. The researchers surveyed 1,479 British youths ages 14-24, asking them how they felt the different social media networks effected their mental health. They took in several factors such as body image, sleep deprivation, bullying, and self-identity.
The results suggest the two worst social media networks for kids are Instagram and Snapchat, as they had terrible scores for body image, bullying, and anxiety. Twitter and Facebook weren’t much better, though. YouTube was the only one that apparently inspired more positive feelings than negative ones.
It could be because Snapchat and Instagram are image-based apps, meaning it’s not easy for users to avoid visual comparisons. Both apps ranked high on “Fear of Missing Out,” and the researchers suggested this was likely to foster anxiety in fellow users:
Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life. These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude in young people. Individuals may view heavily photo-shopped, edited or staged photographs and videos and compare them to their seemingly mundane lives.
Researchers suggested a way to offset the negative emotions was the remind users that life exists outside of these apps — pop-up warnings that would let people know they’ve reached critical mass of social media usage, and watermarks that indicate a photo has been digitally manipulated.
via Business Insider