The Wall Street Journal uncovered troubling findings on the impact Instagram has on teens.
Instagram’s parent company Facebook Inc conducted the research.
One slide from Facebook’s internal message board last year claimed:
Thirty-two percent of teen girls said when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.
Another slide noted:
Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves
Facebook Inc has conducted the research over three years. The consistent findings are worrying.
While not a cause, Instagram has shown to exacerbate depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicidal ideation. 13% British and 6% of American teens blamed Instagram for their suicidal ideation.
Facebook CEO and Head downplay the findings
Not surprisingly, Facebook Inc has downplayed worrying findings.
Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg argued:
The research that we’ve seen is that social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental-health benefits.
Likewise, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri has also minimised the findings, claiming size of the issue was “quite small”.
Instagram banks on young people
Young people are abandoning Facebook. They have been for almost a decade. However, the number of young people using Instagram has exploded.
People aged twenty-two and under make up 40% of Instagram’s users. On average, US teens spend 50% more time on Instagram than Facebook.
That’s why Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram’s Head Adam Mosseri has downplayed the alarming research. At a Congressional Hearing in March this year, Zuckerberg argued:
The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have mental-health benefits
Mosseri downplayed the issues. He said the extent of the problem was “quite small”.
Of course, Mosseri and Zuckerberg will want to minimise links between Facebook, Instagram and youth mental health. Young people on Instagram have become their cash cow.
Instagram and the exploitation of underage children
Canadian Youtuber and podcaster, Josh Barbour is vocal against influencers who exploit children. His campaign was triggered by Myka and James Stauffer’s adoption and ‘rehoming’ of a Chinese child. (I’m not going to use the name the Stauffers gave him).
The case exploded Barbour’s channel, The Dad Challenge Podcast. Since then, Barbour has exposed a whole underbelly of child exploitation on social media.
Piper Rockelle and Liliana K
Two revolting instances of children being exploited on Instagram are Liliana Ketchman (aka Liliana K) and Piper Rockelle.
I remember when I saw his video on Ketchman, her account was mass reported. Liliana was underage (twelve, I think). Unfortunately, Instagram refused to take the account down. Reason? Her ‘mother’ (I use that term loosely) ran the account.
I was infuriated. I seriously thought about deleting my Instagram accounts.
A few months later, Barbour exposed the exploitation of Piper Rockelle. Unlike Liliana K, Rockelle was over the age limit (she was fourteen, I think).
The images are beyond revolting.
For me, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I deleted both my Instagram accounts. Please note, I don’t begrudge those who still have an Instagram account.
However, if people delete their accounts in revolt, I’m all for it. People should hold Facebook Inc accountable.
Platforms like YouTube and Instagram are potentially putting children in danger. The full impact on child influencer culture is yet to be seen.
I’ll be fair to Mark Zuckerberg for a second. Do I believe that he deliberately created Instagram to exploit children? No. But he is responsible. And Facebook Inc is failing a whole generation.
I’m passionate about mental health. I think that mental health care, especially therapies, should be free for clients. If you feel the same consider signing the Green’s petition here. You can also write to your MP.