Instagram is saying it plans to remove posts that promote illusions about attractive bodies and thereby protect teenagers from emotional harm. It defended itself against a report that the social media platform is harming the mental health of young girls on Tuesday (September 14, 2021),
SUMMARY: Instagram defended itself against a report that the social network harms the mental health of young girls. Wall Street Journal cited Facebook research as showing its photo-centric Instagram service takes a toll on teenagers, especially girls. The company plans to play down posts promoting myths about beautiful bodies.
How they Intend to Protect Teenagers from Emotional Harm
Karina Newton, Instagram’s head of public policy, pushed back against a Wall Street Journal piece citing Facebook research as evidence that the photo-centric Instagram service is harmful to youngsters, particularly girls.
“Research on the effects of social media on people’s well-being is mixed,” Newton wrote in the essay. “Our own studies echo external research.”
“What appears to matter most is how people use social media and how they utilize it in their state of mind.”
She highlighted a Harvard research that found a “see-saw” of positive and negative social media experiences among US youths.
On one day, a teenager may like connecting with friends on social media, but on another day, he or she may clash with the same individual, hence the need to protect teenagers from emotional harm online.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Instagram has downplayed the harm it has caused to millions of young people who use the platform on a regular basis, particularly when it comes to feelings of shame about their bodies as a result of seeing what is marketed as beautiful in photos on the platform.
“Issues like negative social comparison and anxiety exist in the real world, and they’ll exist on social media as well,” Newton explained.
According to the Journal, internal research found that youngsters blamed Instagram for their worry and sadness.
According to Newton, Instagram has attempted to address issues such as bullying, suicide, self-injury, and eating disorders that have been disclosed on the network.
According to Newton, Instagram is currently looking into ways to figure out what kinds of posts make people feel bad and then “nudge” them to content that will make them feel better.
Newton stated, “We’re increasingly focused on combating negative social comparison and poor body image.”
“We’re cautiously optimistic that these nudges will help users find content that inspires and uplifts them, and, to a larger extent, will alter Instagram’s culture away from how people look.”
Instagram is developing a version of the social network for youngsters aged 13 and under, a move that child safety advocates oppose.
To us, it is a call in the right direction.