A new report from the Wall Street Journal indicates that the extent of the damage Instagram is causing to the mental health of its younger users is very large, based on the internal research by Facebook.
The Wall Street Journal recently gained access to these in-depth studies, which paint a bleak picture of the harmful effects of the photo-sharing platform on its younger users, especially teenage girls.
For teenage girls, Instagram is a powerful social comparison engine, when one judges an individual's worth, attractiveness, and success based on comparisons with others. Teenage girls are exposed to perfect images across the platform, and they appear as ads and images in the app's feed and explore page.
This often has a negative effect on the mental health of these users. As one slide from an internal Facebook presentation said: We're making image problems worse for one in three teenage girls. The paper highlights some highlights from Facebook's internal research on Instagram's impact on younger users.
One study by the social media giant of teen Instagram users in the US and UK found that more than 40 percent of those who reported being unattractive said feelings started when they used Instagram.
Research reviewed by senior Facebook executives concluded that Instagram is designed to achieve greater social comparison than competing apps such as TikTok and Snapchat. Tik Tok focuses more on performance and Snapchat focuses more on face-focused filters. While Instagram, by comparison, highlights users' bodies and lifestyles more often.
The teens told the Facebook researchers that they felt addicted to Instagram and often wanted to cut back on their use. But they did not have the ability to restrain their use. And Facebook internal research in 2019 said: Teens blame Instagram for increases in anxiety and depression.
Facebook found that 13% of UK users and 6% of US users who said they had suicidal thoughts linked those thoughts to the app. As the Wall Street Journal notes. The company's top executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg. They have been questioned by politicians about the effects of its apps on younger users. But they did not disclose such detailed results.
The company told senators that its research was proprietary and kept confidential to promote frank and open dialogue internally. The company tried to deal with these issues with changes to the user interface, such as experimenting with hiding the number of likes. But the company said the change did not appear to have a significant impact.