Image source, Reuters

Grab your phone and open Instagram.

Many of us are familiar with this routine. How does this app impact our mental health?

Frances Haugen of Facebook, the whistleblower for the company, stated that Instagram was more dangerous than other social media platforms after it became clear that its own research had shown it to be.

Instagram stated at the time that the research demonstrated its commitment to “understanding complex and difficult problems”.

Five people shared their Instagram stories with the BBC as lawmakers continue to examine social media.

Dani is in a love/hate relationship to Instagram. South Wales’ 29-year old Dani makes her living on the platform and created a network for transgender people.

She has been abused for her looks.

Dani declares to the BBC that “Instagram has been the best blessing and worst curse of my entire life.”

Transgender people with an online account are vulnerable to abuse. Some of the hatred I have experienced on-line has been devastating.

“The degrading comments were horrible. One person even sent me an entire thread in which people took pictures of me and mocked me.

Frances Haugen explained to the joint committee of Lords MPs and Lords Instagram is all about “social comparisons and bodies… about peoples’ lifestyles… and that’s what end up being worsening for kids.”

Dani is a recovering addict from an alcohol problem and says that she sees how addictive social media can be.

“Despite being sober for many years now, I believe Instagram is harmful for addicts. This is the exact same feeling that you feel, the urge to get more.

Vice-president for global affairs of Instagram parent Meta, Sir Nick Clegg has spoken out in defense of the platform and said that “the overwhelming majority” of teenager girls love it.

The CEO said that the company was launching tools to stop Instagram users from using harmful methods, like a nudge called “take A Break”, which encourages them to take a break.

Hannah uses social media for six to ten hours per day, something she’s done since her teens.

He is currently studying at the University of the West of Scotland (Ayr) and has created an account on every major platform: Facebook, Instagram. Twitter. Snapchat. TikTok.

She explains, “I’ve developed a bad habit of checking my emails first thing in the AM,”

“It is the last thing that I do before I fall asleep. My entire day revolves around social media.

TikTok is addictive. I can scroll for hours on end. It is obvious that I waste time, but there are instances when I do my best to limit it.

Hannah followed Instagram accounts that were negative about Hannah’s body image.

It made me think that I needed my body to be like them, so I started to set unrealistic goals of becoming a model. This was causing me mental distress, and I decided to take a break from them.

She now follows body-positive Instagram accounts and has swapped her influencers.

I realized that not everyone can be a six-foot, size six model. “I’ve begun to look up to people more like myself, which has helped me feel better about my body.”

Hannah was subject to some very negative comments on Instagram.

People made comments about me telling them I needed to lose weight. And I am only 10 inches tall. I felt bad about myself.

Scarlett Scarlett and Anisa, both from Hornsey School for Girls North London tell BBC they are well aware of dangers of social networking.

Scarlett, 15 years old, uses every platform except Facebook. She doesn’t believe Facebook is appropriate for her age.

She says, “I’m a fan of YouTubers who create fashion content, such as Emma Chamberlain,”

It’s hard to see someone with a high level of beauty standards after just going through puberty. I feel like I have to look as good. This has left me feeling insecure.

“I have unfollowed many accounts.”

Anisa (15) also changes accounts in an effort to avoid any negative content.

However, she still sees things on the internet that she doesn’t like.

I’ve observed that some accounts can create an unhealthy environment. Anisa: “Being a teen I am aware that brainwashing is a problem.”

“As a Muslim I feel there is really terrible representation of Muslims… So if I see such content, I remove it.”

They also shared some fun experiences with social media.

Scarlett states, “I’ve made a lot cooking videos. I have also learned many skills online.”

There are many accounts that contain amazing information, tips, tricks, and advice for life. However, the negatives will probably outweigh any positives.

Instagram is not available to everyone in the school. Leah (15 years old) hasn’t been permitted to create an account.

“It is because there are so many negative things out there. I believe my mum will make the right decision,” she said.

“I wish I could have social media. My friends do it. I can feel disconnected sometimes. However, I understand the downsides. Many of the stories I’ve heard about friends getting inappropriate images and terrible videos from my peers are things that people in our generation shouldn’t see.

Meta, at the time still known as Facebook, put an end to plans for creating an “Instagram experience” for younger users, which was called “Instagram kids”.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri stated that the company would listen to parents, experts, policymakers, and regulators.


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