Facebook study shows Instagram is harmful to teenage girls


Taishawna Davis

HARMFUL SOCIAL MEDIA. In this illustration, a teenager fights against the negativity directed at her on Instagram.

Teens and adults use social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, TikTok and Instagram to escape from reality. They scroll through countless posts or share a picture of themselves with the world. Many trends start on social media. Most of all, though, social media holds an ugly truth: it is actually harmful for teens.

Payton Morelock, a seventh grade student, participates in social media.

“Only on Snapchat, he said. “The only people I add are my close friends, no strangers.”

Riley Saylor, another seventh grade student, uses social media rarely.

“I rarely, and only, use Facebook,” he said.

Many teens use Instagram to socialize and post images. Recently, though, due to hundreds of pages of Facebook papers leaking, people are seeing a new problem. These Facebook Papers showed the toxic side of Instagram, especially for teen girls.

Saylor only knows a little bit about Facebook.

“It is a very dominant form of social media,” he said.

Morelock knows a bit more.

“It is run by Mark ‘Lizardman’ Zuckerberg,” he said. “I know it’s shady and a lot of old people use it.”

Most teens don’t realize that Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp.

An internal study that Facebook conducted showed that 13.5% of British teen girls say their suicidal thoughts became more frequent after they started using Instagram. Facebook has been aware of this problem but has not taken any action.

“The majority of people on Instagram are girls, so it’s going to affect them more.” Morelock said.

Teens use social media from five to seven and a half hours per day. It is a huge part of their lives.

“[I use social media] 2 hours on a good week,” Morelock said. “Sometimes, it’s 1 hour [per week].”

Among teen girls, 17% say that their eating disorders get worse from using social media. People’s comments on photos often make them insecure and cause them to eat less.

Many parents are also worried for their teen’s mental health. Cyberbullying happens on social media, including Instagram and could hurt teen girls into self-harming, eating disorders, or even suicidal thoughts.

Among teen girls, 32% say that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.

Many are now suggesting the government should regulate Facebook and other social media platforms.

“I agree, the sites should be monitored 24/7 by a government official,” Saylor said.

Morelock agreed.

“It would stop a lot of our generation’s problems,” he said.

Then there’s the problem of misinformation. When misinformation is posted on social media, many teens believe the statements are true. About 40% of Instagram’s users are 22 years old and younger. They struggle with recognizing misinformation when they see it.

For many, Facebook’s documents show their failure to protect children on Instagram, especially young girls and teens.

“I feel like social media is a 55% to 45% ratio for being bad and good” Makenzie Inniss, an 8th grade student, said “However, the bad often outweighs the good.”