On Tuesday, the newspaper reported that Facebook ( Facebook), which bought Instagram in 2012, has been doing studies over the last three years to see how Instagram affects the millions of its young users. Research shows that the app can cause problems with mental health, body image and sexuality among teens. In public , Facebook executives often downplay mental health issues.
One slide from an internal presentation slides obtained by The Journal summarizing research on teen girls with body image problems, read “We make body issues worse for one third teen girls.” According to The Journal, 13% and 6% respectively of American teens reported having suicidal thoughts. One presentation revealed that Instagram was the source of their desire to commit suicide.
In a statement posted Tuesday by Karina Newton (head of public policy for Instagram), Newton stated that, while Instagram may be a place where people can have “negative experiences”, the app gives voice to marginalized individuals and allows friends and families to stay in touch.
Newton stated that Facebook’s internal research showed its commitment to understanding the complex and challenging issues youth may face, which informs our work to support those who are experiencing such issues.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook research has concluded that certain problems in teens’ mental health are specific to Instagram and not more generally social media, particularly when it comes down to “social comparability.” This is when people focus on their success, wealth or appearance in comparison to others on Facebook.
According to The Journal the research was reviewed by Facebook’s top executives and cited in a presentation to Mark Zuckerberg for 2020.
In a blog post, Newton stated that Instagram “increasingly focuses on negative social comparisons and poor body image.” Another idea is for users to be challenged to think about other topics whenever they see the same content repeatedly.
She said, “We are cautiously optimistic that these tips will point people to content that inspires, uplifts, and, in a greater extent, shifts the culture of Instagram that is focused on how people look.”
This might not suffice to placate critics. Facebook reiterated in July that it is moving ahead with its plans to create an Instagram account for children younger than 13 years old, despite opposition from Washington lawmakers and parents.
Sen. Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut said Tuesday that The Journal had revealed that Instagram has been aware for many years that it is having a “damaging impact on young people” and that employees warned of this danger but were ignored in favour of “growth.”
He tweeted, “I am appalled by Facebook’s targeting teens with dangerous products while concealing the science of their toxic effects.” My Commerce subcommittee is committed to protecting children’s rights and supporting parents through hearings and legislative legislation.
There are many ways you can help someone who is at-risk of suicidal thoughts:
To reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-800-273-8255. For people who are in suicidal distress or crisis, it provides confidential and free support for up to seven days per week. Learn more about the organization’s services, and its guidelines on what you should do if suicidal thoughts or language are posted on social media. Call 1-888-628-95454 for Spanish crisis assistance.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention provides international support and a directory with resources. Befrienders Worldwide is also available.
Publiated at Wed 15 Sep 2021, 11:24:39 +0000