Instagram rated worst social media for mental health

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The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has published a new report, #StatusOfMind, which examines the positive and negative effects of social media on young people’s health.

The report includes a comparison of social media platforms according to their impact on young people’s mental health.

YouTube topped the table as the most positive, while Instagram and Snapchat were rated as the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and well-being.

According to Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of RSPH, “social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves, and learn about the world around us; it is intrinsically linked to mental health.”

The report found that social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, rates of anxiety and depression in young people have risen 70% in the past 25 years, social media use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep, and that cyber bullying is a growing problem.

Despite the negative effects, researchers also reported  that using the various social media platforms can improve young people’s access to other people’s experiences of health and expert health information, maintain or build upon real world interpersonal relationships, that they feel more emotionally supported through their contacts, and can inspire self-expression.

Adolescence and early adulthood is a critical and potentially vulnerable time for social and emotional development, which means understanding the effects of social media on health at this stage is of particular interest. This report explores both the positive and negative impacts social media may be having on young people’s mental health and emotional well-being, and suggests ways in which the risks to health can be mitigated, whilst harnessing and promoting the positive aspects.

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