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Instagram worst social media for mental health; Twitter, Facebook follow YouTube as best: study

27 May 2017

A new report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK says that Instagram, the image-saturated app with over 700 million users, takes a major toll on the young people's mental health, most notably among young women.

Their study, #StatusofMind, looked at how young people interacted with social media apps. The survey involved 1,500 people from the 14-23 age group who were polled on issues like anxiety, depression, and body image and determined trends from their answers.

Of the five social platforms studied - Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube - Instagram was found to be the most detrimental to the mental health of young people while YouTube was found to have the most positive impact.

Instagram draws young women to ''compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality,'' said Matt Keracher, author of the report, as quoted by CNN. ''Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren't good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look 'perfect', '' an anonymous female respondent said in the report.

To tackle the problem, the Royal Society for Public Health has asked social media platforms to initiate action to help combat young users' feelings of inadequacy and anxiety by placing a warning on images that had been digitally manipulated.

While the photo-based platform had scored points on self-expression and self-identity, it was associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying and FOMO, or the ''Fear Of Missing Out.''

YouTube received the highest marks for health and wellbeing and was judged most positively by respondents.

Twitter took the second spot, Facebook came in third and then Snapchat - with Instagram bringing up the rear.

The report showed that there were certainly some benefits associated with social networking, with all the sites notching positive scores for self-identity, self-expression, community building and emotional support, for example.

YouTube also scored high for bringing awareness of other people's health experiences, for providing access to trustworthy health information and for reducing respondents' levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

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