Status of mind: Social media effects on young people

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Text Summit Staff

It's always the case that technological advancements determine how, after the flush of discovery, affect us in general and considering both their positive and negative aspects. Such is our time spent on social media platforms, especially the current generation who know only forming their identities through their eager participation in the digital world.

The Royal Society for Public Health, an independent charity in the U.K., recently published a report that examines the effects of social media on young people’s health.

According to the findings of #StatusOfMind, the social media platform with the most positive effect is YouTube, with Instagram and Snapchat considered the most detrimental to young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Around 1,500 people, between the ages of 14-24, were surveyed.

Instagram, in particular, with its 700 million users worldwide, draws young women to "compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered and Photoshopped versions of reality," Matt Keracher, author of the report, told CNN.

Because of that, the RSPH has called for social media platforms to place warnings on images that have been digitally manipulated to stave off young observers' feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. "We're not asking these platforms to ban Photoshop or filters," Keracher said, "but rather to let people know when images have been altered so that users don't take the images on face value as real.

"We really want to equip young people with the tools and the knowledge to be able to navigate social media platforms not only in a positive way but in a way that promotes good mental health," he added in the CNN interview.

The report also cites research published in the Journal of Youth Studies that found one in five young people saying that they wake up during the night to check messages, leaving them sleep deprived due to sometimes unrealistic expectations and "fear of missing out."

The RSPH suggests that users like fashion brands and celebrities disclose when their photos have been manipulated and also suggest that social networks give users a pop-up warning if they exceed a certain time spent logged on.

All this, of course, is just the beginning of more research needed to study how all of our mental health is affected through constant use of platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter.

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