Social media networks must take more responsibility for their users following worrying new report

A recent survey by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in the UK, has revealed that four of the five most popular forms of social media are harming young people’s mental health.

As such, I am calling for new measures to be implemented to ensure social media networks take more responsibility for their users, particularly young people.

It’s time for social media networks to take more responsibility for the welfare of their users, particularly young people.

Instagram has been pinpointed as the most damaging to young people’s mental wellbeing. According to the RSPH survey of almost 1,500 14- to 24-year-olds in the UK, the app is deepening young people’s feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, depression, insomnia, loneliness and fear of missing out. 

The survey concluded that Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are also harmful.  

According to the RSPH research, these social media apps can exacerbate children’s and young people’s body image worries, and worsen bullying. There is growing incidence of body shaming and fat shaming of young people on social media.  

Among the five social media companies researched, YouTube was the only one judged to have a positive impact.

People using social media channels need to be aware that many of the influencers they follow are displaying a very edited and idyllic version of their lives, that does not necessarily tell the whole story.

Nobody’s life is as perfect as their Instagram account might suggest.

It’s time for social media channels to promote more body positive and life positive messaging.

They could use their significant advertising budgets to promote mental health campaigns for example. They could use their channels to highlight positive mental health strategies among young people to equip them to deal with the pressures of life.

Networks could also promote positive messaging about sexism and abuse of women, something young girls and women face on a daily basis in their lives. Education campaigns around what constitutes casual sexism and/or abuse could be very helpful in this regard.

Another positive intervention by social media networks would be to introduce a pop-up alert to warn users when they have spent too long on the site. We need to encourage young people to get out and live full lives, rather than just posting about it on social media.

 

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