We’re made to believe that social media helps us stay more connected with our loved ones and share our memorable moments with the world, but have you ever wondered about the effect it has on your happiness?
By now, it’s well known that unrealistic expectations created by everyone sharing their best times and leaving out the bad can lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of unworthiness. We aren’t being fair to ourselves by comparing our behind-the-scenes lives with everyone else’s highlight reels, but did you know that Instagram may be the worst offender? According to a new report by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), this particular social networking site has the greatest negative effect on users’ mental health.
In the survey, nearly 1,500 people between the ages of 14 and 24 were asked if they thought Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, or Twitter affected their feelings of anxiety, connection to a community, sense of identity, sleep, body image, and other factors that play into their health.
Every site except for YouTube had an overall negative effect, with Instagram being the worst. While around 70 percent of respondents said they get emotional support on social media, the report also states that the sites cause anxiety and body image issues, especially because aspirational images can give girls unrealistic expectations about their own bodies.
“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,’” one respondent said.
RSPH also mention physical effects by citing a report in the Journal of Youth Studies, which states that one in five young people lose sleep because they check their messages and notifications during the night.