(WXYZ) – A recent survey compared five social media sites and one in particular was ranked worst for kid’s mental health.
This survey was published by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health.
Almost 1,500 teens and young adults between the ages of 14 and 24 answered questions concerning 5 different media platforms and how they impacted their mental or physical health. Instagram with over 700 million monthly active users was rated the worst.
Instagram is very image-focused and survey participants associated it with negative attributes like FOMO or the “fear of missing out” when friends post photos doing fun things. The app was reported to fuel loneliness, depression, bullying and high levels of anxiety. They were also linked to poor body image, especially for girls who feel their bodies aren’t good enough because they’re comparing themselves to images that have been edited and altered.
Instagram did get high points for self-identity and self-expression. One key issue with social media is that kids tend to compare their life to unreal expectations. Here are my prescriptions:
- Parents and caregivers should monitor the time their kids spend on social media, limiting it to 2 hours a day. More than that has been linked to psychological distress in previous studies.
- Encourage digital etiquette. Nurture the positive aspects of social media and talk about the dangers as well.
- Explain to teens that what they see on social media is just a small part of other people’s lives. Everyone has their struggles and many only post about the good in their life.
- Tell your child they can come to you anytime and talk about how they feel. Don’t assume they know to do this. And make sure they know you provide unconditional love.
YouTube came in first, receiving high marks for wellbeing and raising awareness of other people’s health experiences. Twitter took second place, Facebook was third followed by Snapchat.
Every site scored positively for community building and emotional support. Social media is not going away so it’s important for all of us to learn how to use it respectfully.
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