Limit your time on social media!

Annika Houck, Editor-in-Chief

The idea that too much time spent on social media has a negative impact on young people is not new to anyone — especially not to the companies behind the apps.

As news outlets have recently reported, Facebook conducted its own internal study of Instagram’s effect on teenagers and uncovered some frightening statistics. Even more alarming is that this study was not only reviewed by top executives at the company, it was concealed from the public and only recently leaked. 

The study in question revealed that teenagers, girls in particular, suffer from increased anxiety and depression and lower self-esteem when they consistently spend multiple hours a day on Instagram. The app is riddled with images of other young people’s supposedly “perfect” bodies and “perfect” lives and drives teenagers to compare their own lives and images to a misrepresentation of reality. 

The result is harmful. Teenagers sit in a vulnerable place between childhood and adulthood and are susceptible to the influence of these platforms. What they often forget is that any individual’s account consists of only the picture-perfect shots of life and leave out all the nitty-gritty details that would make it reality. 

Spending hours in an environment that manipulates teenagers into believing they are not good enough because their lives aren’t always picture-perfect has resulted in 1 in 3 teen girls suffering from body image issues. Facebook’s study revealed 13% of users who have suicidal thoughts in the UK and 6% in the US trace the beginning of their struggles back to their time on Instagram. 

These results should not be surprising. Other studies have been conducted that reveal similar information. Despite it being widespread knowledge that teenagers spending too much time on social media can result in mental health issues and suicidal ideation, no company has made any efforts to reduce the harm.

Facebook kept its own research and data out of the public eye for at least two years, and during that time continued attracting new users. Teenagers continue to become dependent on social media and validating their image among strangers on the internet. 

Next time you’re headed for your social media, think about what it is you’re trying to accomplish. What does social media do for you? Is it really having a positive impact on your life?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, spend more time with the people in your life who can support you without harming your self image. Too much time in a toxic environment is not just unhealthy, it’s harmful.