Wake up, pick up your phone, open Instagram and start scrolling.
It’s an all too familiar routine for many of us. But how does the app affect our mental health?
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen warned that Instagram was “more dangerous than other forms of social media,” after it was revealed that the company’s research showed it could be harmful.
At the time, Instagram said the research showed its “commitment to understanding complex and difficult issues.”
As politicians continue to scrutinize social media, the BBC spoke to five people about their Instagram experiences.
Dani has a love-hate relationship with Instagram. The 29-year-old from South Wales makes a living with the platform and has created a community for trans people to connect online.
But he received insults for his appearance.
“Instagram is the biggest blessing and the biggest curse of my life,” Dani tells the BBC.
“When you are a trans person with an account that is not private, you still expose yourself to abuse, but some of the hatred I had online has destroyed my soul.
“The hateful comments were vile. Someone even sent me a thread where people had taken pictures of me and were ridiculing me.”
Frances Haugen told a joint committee of MPs and gentlemen that Instagram is about “social confrontation and bodies … about people’s lifestyles, and that’s what ends up being worse for children.”
Dani, who has overcome an addiction to alcohol, says she can see how social media can be addictive.
“I’ve been sober for a few years now, but I feel that Instagram isn’t good for people with addictive personalities. It’s the same feeling you get, the need to have more and more.”
Sir Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Instagram’s parent company Meta, defended the platform, saying the “overwhelming majority” of teenage girls enjoy using it.
He said the company will introduce tools to tackle the malicious use of Instagram, including a push feature called “take a break,” which will prompt young users to log out.
Hannah spends six to ten hours a day on social media, which she has accessed since she was a teenager.
The 24-year-old, who studies at the University of West Scotland in Ayr, has an account on all major platforms; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok.
“I have this bad habit of checking all my notifications in the early morning,” he explains.
“It’s the last thing I check before I go to sleep. My whole day revolves around my social media.
“I’m definitely addicted to TikTok, I can scroll easily for a couple of hours at a time. I know I’m basically wasting my time … there are times when I try to limit it.”
On Instagram, Hannah followed influencers who made her feel guilty about her body image.
“It made me think my body needed to look like theirs, and I started to have unrealistic expectations of being a slim model. I found that it was really hurting my mental health, so I stepped back and quit. to follow them “.
Now he has changed who he follows, trading influencers with body positive accounts.
“I realized that not everyone is a five-foot, super skinny model. I started following the people who look like me the most, and that improved my confidence in the body.”
Hannah got some hate comments on Instagram.
“I’ve received comments from some people telling me that I need to lose weight because I’m putting on too much weight and I’m only a size ten. It made me feel negative about my body.”
At Hornsey School for Girls in North London, Scarlett and Anisa tell the BBC they are aware of the dangers of social media.
Scarlett is 15 and uses all platforms except Facebook, which she doesn’t think is for people her age.
“I follow YouTubers who create fashion content, like Emma Chamberlain, who I love,” she says.
“But when I see someone with a really high standard of beauty when I’m just through puberty, it’s really hard because seeing him makes me think I should look like that. It made me feel insecure.
“I have unfollowed many accounts.”
Anisa, also 15, changes the accounts that follows, to try to avoid negative content.
But he still saw things online that he didn’t want to see.
“I’ve noticed that some people’s accounts create a toxic environment. As a teenager, I know I have to be careful about brainwashing,” says Anisa.
“As a Muslim, it seems to me that there is a really bad representation of us … so if I see that kind of content I stop following it.”
The girls say they have also had pleasant experiences on social media, especially when it comes to making videos with their friends.
Scarlett says; “I’ve tried a lot of cooking recipe videos and learned a lot of skills from online videos.
“There are also reports with surprising facts, tips, tricks and advice about life – it’s not all bad, although the negatives probably outweigh the positives.”
Not everyone in school is on Instagram. Leah, 15, still doesn’t have permission to create an account.
“It’s because of all the bad things out there, so I trust my mom’s decision,” she says.
“I would love to have social media, because all my friends have it and sometimes I feel out of the loop, but I also know the downside. I’ve heard a lot of stories about my friends getting inappropriate photos and horrible videos: things that people our age shouldn’t look at. “
In September, Meta – then still called Facebook – suspended plans to do an “Instagram experience” for children under 13, dubbed “Instagram Kids”.
The company said it will take some time to hear “parents, experts, policymakers and regulators,” Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said.
- Social media
- Body image
- Young people
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This Article is Sourced from BBC News. You can check the original article here: Source