While being our generation's favorite, Instagram is the worst social media platform for our mental health. According to a study conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health in the U.K., the use of the social media network is associated with feelings of anxiety, depression, and "FOMO," or the fear of missing out.
Don't get me wrong. I probably spend as much time on Instagram as most people my age. And I see its effects on me when thoughts like "Wow, I wish I was in the Bahamas right now" enter my head. When I post a picture I often doubt if I look good in it or not whether the picture was "trendy" enough or "fits into my feed."
Unfortunately, this warped sense of self-perception is very common in our society. According to several studies conducted by Dove, more than half of women around the world agree that "when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic." Now imagine adding the torture induced by social media to this mix. Too many teens and young adults use platforms like Instagram not to express themselves, but instead in seek of public validation, which they define by the number of likes and comments they receive.
When it comes to self-perception, selfies are the worst. Initially when the concept was first introduced, it seemed like a great one: posting an individual photo could help boost self-esteem. However with the increasing use of photo retouching apps and filters, many selfies are heavily edited, creating a false sense of flawlessness.
Instagram's initial mission was to "bring you closer to the people and things you love." In a society where Instagram is so commonly used amongst all age groups, it's important to keep this goal in mind. Rather than letting it ruin our self-esteem, let's use it for its original purpose. To network. To stay in touch with family and friends. To discover your passion.