Facebook's Own Research Finds Instagram Harms Mental Health Of Teens

By Bill Galluccio

September 14, 2021

The shmile an instagram pose
Photo: Getty Images

A team of researchers found that Instagram is harmful to the mental health of teens, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The researchers were working for Facebook to put together a comprehensive report on how the app impacted teens' mental health.

The study found that 32% of teen girls said that Instagram made them feel worse about their bodies, as did 14% of teenage boys.

Instagram responded to the Wall Street Journal's article and said that the overall results of the three-year study were more complex.

"The question on many people's minds is if social media is good or bad for people. The research on this is mixed; it can be both. At Instagram, we look at the benefits and the risks of what we do. We're proud that our app can give voice to those who have been marginalized, that it can help friends and families stay connected from all corners of the world, that it can prompt societal change; but we also know it can be a place where people have negative experiences, as the Journal called out today. Our job is to make sure people feel good about the experience they have on Instagram, and achieving that is something we care a great deal about," Instagram Head of Public Policy Karina Newton wrote in a blog post.

Newton said that Instagram has been working to make the app safer for young people, who make up a sizable percentage of their users.

"We've done extensive work around bullying, suicide and self-injury, and eating disorders, to help make Instagram a safe and supportive place for everyone. Based on our research and feedback from experts, we've developed features so people can protect themselves from bullying, we've given everyone the option to hide like counts, and we've continued to connect people who may be struggling with local support organizations," Newton wrote.

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