The debate about social media and our mental health is lengthy and unlikely to ever end. But the latest round is being kicked off by the Royal Society for Public Health, which has studied social media and how it impacts the health of young people. Unsurprisingly, it’s not a fan!
The RSPH asked 1,500 14 to 24 year-olds to rank several social media sites on fourteen different mental health metrics, ranging from bullying to body anxiety. Unsurprisingly, four out of the five sites looked at came in as a net negative for mental health, although YouTube manage to escape with a positive rating, presumably because nobody reads the comments. The site that got the most thumbs-down? Instagram, thanks to users’ problems with body image, the bullying you can experience, and the by-now notable cycle of “fear of missing out” that plagues any social media site.
The good news is that limiting usage to less than two hours a day seems to be effective in reducing these feelings, and that we aren’t doomed to spend our lives staring at Instagram feeds. We can easily opt out of social media when we need to. Really what it boils down to is using these platforms in a way that bolsters your mental health and personal well-being. Or you could look exclusively at cute photos of dogs. That would also work.