Instagram found to be the worst social media platform for mental health

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Both Snapchat and Instagram were considered to have the most negative impact on their health and well-being, according to Royal Society for Public Health's (RSPH) study.

The Royal Society for Public Health and the charity Young Health Movement conducted a survey in the first few months of 2017 of nearly 1,500 young people (aged between 14 and 24) in Britain surrounding their social media usage.

This found that YouTube had the most positive impact, followed by Twitter and Facebook, with Snapchat and Instagram bringing up the rear.

It found that it can also be used as a tool for good, citing that it can be used to make friends and gives people a new platform to talk on.

They were asked to score how each social media site impacted a list of 14 health and wellbeing issues including anxiety, depression, loneliness, sleep, bullying and "FoMo" (Fear of Missing Out).

It is calculated that up to 90% of young people are now social media users when many are at particular risk of undue influence during their formative years, exacerbating depressive conditions.

To help combat the negative impact social media can have on young people the RSPH is calling for a set of recommendations to be implemented.

Parents and mental health experts fear that platforms such as Instagram can make young users feel anxious and inadequate by facilitating hostile comments about their appearance or reminding them that they have not been invited to, for example, a party many of their peers are attending. The they quizzed nearly 1,500 youngsters, aged from 14 to 24.

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These include introducing a pop-up warning to notify young people when they have been using the app for an extended period and disclosures indicating when a photo has been digitally enhanced. "In 2014, just over one in 10 young people said that they had experienced cyberbullying by phone or over the internet".

The report also recommends that NHS England comes up with a vetting scheme for health and well-being information so young people are better able to judge whether information is trustworthy.

"It is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young people's mental health and wellbeing", she said.

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

Young Minds, the charity which Theresa May visited last week on a campaign stop, backed the call for Instagram and other platforms to take further steps to protect young users.

Dr Becky Inkster, honorary research fellow, University of Cambridge, said: "Young people sometimes feel more comfortable talking about personal issues online".

"We also have a unique opportunity to communicate with young people on their terms and in creative ways".

Shirley Cramer, RSPH's CEO, said: "Social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves, and learn about the world around us; it is intrinsically linked to mental health".

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