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Facebook report: Instagram harmful to young people, especially teenagers

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A study by Facebook, published in their internal communication, showed that Instagram is harmful to millions of young people, especially teenagers, in whom using the application contributes to disrupting their body image. Journalists from “The Wall Street Journal” reached the conclusions of the research.

If you are experiencing emotional problems and would like advice or support, here you will find a list of organizations offering professional help. In an imminent life threatening situation, call 997 or 112.

About a year ago, teenage Anastasia Vlasova started meetings with a therapist. She developed an eating disorder and had a clear theory as to what led to it: time spent on Instagram. She registered on the platform at the age of 13, spending three hours a day there. She was charmed by the seemingly perfect life and bodies of fit influencers. “When I went to Instagram, I only saw pictures of sculpted bodies, perfect abs and women doing a hundred burpees in ten minutes,” Vlasoba, 18, from Reston, VA, described.


With these stories, journalists from “The Wall Street Journal” Georgia Wells, Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman began to describe Facebook’s three-year research on the influence of Instagram for millions of young users. Journalists reported that the company’s researchers repeatedly concluded that the application was harmful, especially for teenagers.

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“32 percent of teenagers say that when they feel bad about their body, Instagram makes them feel worse,” assessed in a presentation published in March 2020 on internal communication Facebookreached by journalists of “WSJ”. “Instagram comparisons can change the way young women perceive and describe themselves,” it noted.

Pink Beach in Amsterdam – one of the many concepts created for taking photos for Instagram (photo from June 2021)Utrecht Robin / ABACA / PAP / EPA

“We worsen body image disorders in one in three teens,” wrote another 2019 slide summarizing research on teenage girls who experience these kinds of problems. “Teens blame Instagram for increasing anxiety and depression,” reads the next slide.

One of the presentations published showed that among teenagers who experienced suicidal thoughts, thirteen percent of British users and six percent of American users had the desire to take their own lives on Instagram.

>> Unfiltered. Obligation to tag retouched photos on social media

“WSJ”: In public, Facebook has consistently downplayed the negative impact of the app

The WSJ notes that more than 40 percent of Instagram users are 22 years of age and younger, and about 22 million teenagers log into Instagram every day in the United States (compared with five million teenagers logging into Facebook, where, according to the materials, – the number of young users has been shrinking for a decade). It has been reported that, on average, teens in the United States spend 50 percent more time on Instagram than they do on Facebook. It was noted that these young people are critical to the company’s approximately $ 100 billion annual revenue.

“In public, Facebook has consistently downplayed the app’s negative impact on teens, by not making its research public, or making it available to scientists or lawmakers who requested it,” it wrote.

– Studies we’ve seen show that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental health benefits, Facebook CEO quoted Mark Zuckerberg from a Congressional hearing in March 2021 when asked about children and mental health.

In May, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri told reporters that research he saw suggested the app’s impact on teen well-being is likely “fairly small.”


In a recent interview, he assured that “he has no intention of downplaying these problems.” He also admitted that some Instagram features can be harmful to some young users and are not easy to solve. He added: – There is a lot of good in what we do.

“Social media is not inherently good or bad for people. Many find it helpful one day and problematic the next. What seems to matter most is how people use social media and their state of mind when use them “- commented the research on the Instagram blog.

If you are experiencing emotional problems and would like advice or support, here you will find a list of organizations offering professional help. In an imminent life threatening situation, call 997 or 112.

Main photo source: Utrecht Robin / ABACA / PAP / EPA

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