Socializing has always been regarded as a positive trait that promotes better mental health. With online social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others providing a good way to communicate and socialize, one may think they are getting all the benefits of socializing.
However, a report issued by Royal Society For Public Health (RSPH) have determined social media platforms to be bad for young people’s mental health. The RSPH ranks social media platforms from most positive to most negative for mental health in youth. Turns out, Instagram and Snapchat made it to the bottom of the list.
The purpose of RSPH’s report
The report looked in detail 14 health and wellbeing related issues in young people that social media has an influence on. Here are the 14 issues covered:
- Awareness and understanding of other people’s health experiences
- Access to expert health information you know you can trust
- Emotional support
- Body image
- Real world relationship
- Community building
- FoMO (Fear Of Missing Out – feeling you need to stay connected because you are worried things could be happening without you)
RSPH Report Findings
Based on the ratings given by young people for each platform for the health and wellbeing related issues listed above, the RSPH was able to find out the 5 most popular social media platforms and their impact on these issues. From there on they were able to rank each social media platform.
- YouTube (most positive)
- Instagram (most negative)
YouTube gave a positive push to awareness, access, emotional support, self-expression, and self-identity. YouTube did however negatively impacted sleep of users.
Twitter gave a push to awareness, access, emotional support, self-expression, self-identity and community building. However, it negatively impacted anxiety, depression, loneliness sleep and more.
Pakistan’s favorite social media platform impacted awareness, access, emotional support, real world relationships, community building in a positive way. It greatly impacted bullying, body image and sleep in a negative way.
Snapchat even though greatly impacting self-identity and expression in a positive way, it went way overboard in negatively pushing the fear of missing out and bullying.
Instagram gave a huge positive push to self-expression and self-identity, however, it also caused great negativity by promoting bullying, fear of missing out, body image and sleep.
How RSPH wants to fix social media platforms?
Through its report, RSPH is aiming to raise awareness and introduce new features on existing social media platforms that will help the youth understand it’s usage. They want:
- To introduce a pop-up heavy usage warning on every social media platform that will tell the user to stop using the platform after a set number of hours which can be potentially harmful.
- To introduce a new feature that will highlight a photo if it has been digitally manipulated. This will help the young generation find peace in their body image. On social media, it is quite common for people/businesses to use digitally manipulated photos that cause negative body image in youth.
These are just some of the points RSPH is calling for on Social Media platforms. To read the full report, download here.