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Instagram seeks to curb mental health harm to teens

Instagram seeks to curb mental health harm to teens

(Source: Unsplash.com)

A lot of teenagers turn to social media to pass the time. It’s how they stay connected with their friends amid the pandemic, and keep up with their favorite celebrities. However, the unrealistic standards of beauty perpetuated by social media can cause serious harm to the self-esteem of the youth. 

In turn, social media giant Instagram defended itself against a report that the social network harms the mental health of young girls, saying it intends to play down posts promoting myths about beautiful bodies.

Instagram head of public policy Karina Newton clapped back against a Wall Street Journal report that cited Facebook research as showing its photo-centric Instagram service takes a toll on teenagers, especially girls.

“The research on the effects of social media on people’s well-being is mixed, and our own research mirrors external research,” Newton said in the post. “What seems to matter most is how people use social media, and their state of mind when they use it.”

In Instagram’s defense, the company has been active in addressing problems of bullying, suicide, self-injury, and eating disorders exposed at the platform. Now, Instagram is seeking ways to understand what kinds of posts make viewers feel bad in comparison and then “nudge” people to content more likely to make them feel good, according to Newton.

“We’re increasingly focused on addressing negative social comparison and negative body image,” Newton said. “We’re cautiously optimistic that these nudges will help point people towards content that inspires and uplifts them, and to a larger extent, will shift the part of Instagram’s culture that focuses on how people look.”

Given the visual nature of Instagram, it’s interesting how they plan to help teenagers’ body image. People explore beautiful photos in the ‘gram, after all.

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