How to be safe when using social media – Mental Wellbeing

How to be safe when using social media

Social media seems to consume daily life for young people all around the world and it is not uncommon to see people posting photos of what they are doing, eating or even wearing.

However, according to a recent study by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), Instagram has been rated as the worst social media platform for impacting on young people’s mental health.

For young people social media is their main point of contact with others, a source of news as well as a hub of information and although social media can be useful in many ways, it can have a damaging impact on the mental well being of people, which is very concerning.

Roughly 90 per cent of young people use social media, which instantly makes them vulnerable to negative effects that it can cause.

The research included surveying 1,479 people aged 14-24, asking them to score popular social media platforms on issues such as body image, bullying, loneliness, depression and anxiety. While workers at Instagram said that keeping the platform a safe and supportive place for young people was a priority, mental health charities have urged companies to act to increase users’ safety.

The RSPH has argued that social media platforms should be responsible for flagging up heavy or intense social media use to identify users with mental health issues. However, Instagram has confirmed that it provides tools and information on how to cope with bullying and warns viewers before showing certain content.

The chief executive for the RSPH, Shirley Cramer, said: “interestingly, both Instagram and Snapchat have been rated as the worst for mental health and both platforms seem to be very image-focused. It appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people”.

In order to tackle this growing problem, it is therefore essential to ensure that social media platforms are supporting young people and public health experts have argued that this can be done simply by introducing a series of checks and measures, which include warning pop-ups, signposting places of support and highlighting when photos have been digitally manipulated via icons.

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