“Research shows correlation between use of social media and increased psychological distress and suicidal behavior among youth,” US officials say
Instagram plans to encourage its users to not just watch content promoting the archetype of the slim, athletic female body, after a damning Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article appeared on the social network’s impact on health mental and physical adolescent girls. “We are working more and more on comparisons (of his body with that of others, editor’s note) and the negative image of the body,” said the Facebook application on Tuesday, which is very popular among young people.
The platform says it is thinking about ways to react “when we see that people dwell on certain types of images”, in a statement released in reaction to an investigation by the American economic daily. According to the WSJ, the network is aware of the problem through its own research, but plays down its influence on the psychology of the tens of millions of young people who go online every day.
Neither good nor bad
“We worsen the relationship to his body of one in three teenagers,” noted a slide from Instagram, broadcast during an internal meeting in 2019, according to the article. “Teens accuse Instagram of increasing levels of anxiety and depression,” said another, summarizing a study of girls with this kind of problem.
“The article focuses on findings from limited studies and puts them in a bad light,” replied Karina Newton, Instagram’s director of public regulations. But this research shows “our commitment to understanding these complex topics.” She also points out that social networks are neither good nor bad in themselves, that their influence varies from day to day, and that they inevitably contain the social problems that exist in real life.
She hopes that a potential system of incentives to watch content that “inspires and exalts” young users could help “change that part of Instagram culture that is all about appearances.” Many authorities and associations have been warning for years about the dangers for young people posed by Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc.
“Research shows a correlation between the use of social networks and the increase in psychological distress and suicidal behavior among young people,” argued prosecutors from 44 US states in a letter sent last May to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. They cited studies showing the harms of constant comparison with peers, such as eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia), and asked the boss to drop the plan to create a version of Instagram for those under 13. .