According to new research, Instagram is the most dangerous social media platform for the mental health of young individuals.

The Royal Society for Public Health, together with the Young Health Movement, published a study revealing how the various social media platforms impact youngsters' mental health, and Instagram and Snapchat are apparently the most dangerous. On the opposite end, YouTube ranked as the most positive.

Instagram And Snapchat Rank Worst For Youngsters' Mental Health

Facebook-owned Instagram is a popular photo sharing app with more than 700 million users worldwide, but apparently it takes a negative toll on some of those users. According to the study, of all social media platforms Instagram was the most likely to make young users feel anxious, depressed and lonely.

RSPH and YHM polled nearly 1,500 youngsters aged 14 to 24 from across the UK and found that they most associated Instagram with negative health and wellbeing-related issues, such as low self-esteem, lack of sleep and poor body image. Snapchat, meanwhile, made youngsters feel bullied or left out.

Social Media Addiction

RSPH CEO Shirley Cramer highlights that social media plays a great role in today's society but has been deemed as more addictive than alcohol and cigarettes. In fact, it's such a big part of youngsters' lives that it's impossible to ignore when assessing the mental health issues plaguing the young population.

Both Instagram and Snapchat focus heavily on images and it seems that young users get a feeling of anxiety and inadequacy from these social media platforms.

Becky Inkster, an honorary research fellow from the University of Cambridge, adds that it would be good to use digital technologies and social media as tools to help support mental health. Since social media is already such a big part of our lives, it could serve as a means to offer care and support in a self-managed manner, integrated into users' lifestyle.

Inkster notes that this approach could include personal activities and interests and could not only act as a preventative measure, but also help boost self-awareness of mental health and improve psychoeducation.

"We also have a unique opportunity to communicate with young people on their terms and in creative ways. As health professionals we must make every attempt to understand modern youth culture expressions, lexicons, and terms to better connect with their thoughts and feelings," adds Inkster.

Best And Worst Social Media Platforms

Based on the responses of the young people surveyed, the study ranked the five most popular social media apps from the most positive to the most negative. YouTube ranked as the most positive platform, followed by Twitter and Facebook. Rounding up the top 5 were Snapchat and Instagram, ranked worst for young users' mental health.

RSPH and YHM also make some recommendations in the report, aiming to improve young users' mental health in relation to their social media consumption. Recommendations include a pop up when they overuse social media apps, and getting social media companies to monitor youngsters' posts to detect when they might be struggling with mental health issues. At the same time, the report notes that social media companies could flag digitally manipulated images.

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