Kids, we get it; you don’t want to be lectured to; you don’t want to be told what to do, how to think, or what to believe. You’re happy to jump on a bandwagon of friends online and do, think, and believe what the crowd tells you; it’s the only authority figure that the Millennial generation trusts.

Well, OK. I’m not here to sell you on the perils of that philosophy. I am here to share with you what YOUR PEERS have just reported in a study by the Royal Society for Public Health.  So listen up – your friends are talking.

What did they say? Instagram and Snapchat are the two worst applications for your mental health. Yup, that’s right…your favourite communication tools are harming you.

Sure, there are tons of cool benefits and fun attributes to Instagram, we use it too!  However, there are an equal – if not greater number – of harmful effects to the social network if you’re not careful.

Your peers, and especially young women, report that their self-esteem, self-worth, and body image are all lowered after engaging on these channels. Through filters, and photo-editing software, fake and unrealistic images of our bodies, food, and lives are put on display.

A moment-in-time snapshot that’s most often not an accurate representation of our lives, how we live, or what we look like.

Then there’s the real issue of FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out syndrome, which has everyone addicted to social networking.  This creates an endless cycle in which we fall further down the rabbit hole, which heightens the negative more than accentuating the positives of these channels.

You lose sleep for fear of missing out, and that’s been proven to contribute to poorer mental health.

And then, of course, there’s the growing incidents of cyberbullying and trolling, which has lead too many to consider – and in many cases – complete suicide.

I know you don’t want to hear this from me, so please listen to the findings of this study, which share what YOUR PEERS are saying: Snapchat and Instagram are contributing factors to increasing issues with anxiety and depression.

Should You Stop Using Social Media?

Should you delete these apps? No. There’s value in social media (and, frankly, you’d not listen to me if I did tell you to delete them).

What I’m asking you to do is:

  • Please plan for some down time every day. Make it a pact with your friends: Every day from X to Y time, we’re all off social media and do <this> instead.  Go out for dinner, hang out, watch a movie, listen to music, go for a walk along the lake for an hour or two…without your phones (or, at least, with your phones turned off).
  • When you do post to social media, please make sure that at least some of your posts are geared towards engaging others in an open and honest way. Share before/after filter pics to show who you truly are. Start uncomfortable conversations about what social media has done to your conversations and your perceptions of life, beauty, food, and relationships.

I know you don’t want to hear from me and I know you don’t want to listen to older authority figures but I do believe you are intelligent and understand the growing challenges in these networks. The results of this survey of your peers is proof of that.

So my final request is to take the lead. If you’re going to crowdsource information and direction, please take the lead in that crowd. Help each other out with more pictures and conversations about these issues so that you can benefit from all the good social media can offer and limit the negativity.