When Instagram started, it was just a photo-sharing app. Now, Instagram not only shares visuals that include photos and videos but has widened its horizon to being a socialization platform for small or large groups.
Instagram reels, direct messages, and Instagram stories are major reasons why Instagram is a leading social media platform. These features have helped shape people’s self-identity, and self-expression. they have also been an instrument of community building, emotional support, and an outlet for trustworthy health information.
So, it’s safe to say that this social media app has found a way into our everyday lives. Milestones and memories are piled up on this platform for the public to celebrate or criticize. And most times, when people make their judgements, they don’t do it in an anticipated way.
With all these, one is forced to ask the question, does instagram have an influence on mental health? Well, the answer is YES. And in this piece, we’ll be discussing how this popular app affects people’s mental health.
Instagram and Unrealistic Physical Comparison
A large number of people prefer Instagram for businesses because of the wider audience of people they get the opportunity to reach out to. So literally speaking, Instagram is a very large place with a variety of communities.
Despite all these benefits, Instagram still has its downside. A survey carried out and published by The UK’s Royal Society for Public Health, on about 1500 children and young adults brings important facts to limelight.
The survey indicates that Instagram and other social media sites adversely affect children’s mental health. This is because of the pressure social media exposes them to.
The survey was carried out on five social media apps on fourteen different issues related to their mental and physical health. According to the results of the survey, Instagram was the worst social media platform for mental health and wellbeing. It’s thought to be the cause of high levels of anxiety, sadness, poor sleep quality, bullying, and FOMO (fear of missing out).
Statistics indicate that teens spend more than nine hours per day on social media. Meanwhile, previous studies have shown that young people who spend more than two hours a day on social media platforms are more likely to come down with psychological distress.
The not-so-real life depicted on social media sites such as Instagram, which appears to be full of joy and pleasure, often creates an illusion in people’s minds. This often leads to a comparative and pessimistic mentality. The illusion would make them believe that they are not living their lives to the fullest when, in fact, that is not the case.
Instagram Causes a Puncture To Self Esteem
Social media is the easiest and fastest way to connect to friends and network with other people. Instagram, specifically, is a great place to hang out virtually and view the world at a glance. People get the chance to create content about their cultures and views, and inform the world of how beautiful and different everyone is. But every content on Instagram doesn’t hold positivity.
The amount of time spent on the platform exposes people to unfiltered negativity. People tend to take everything on Instagram at face value. Though users are quite aware of the existence of filters and editing programs on the app, their minds seem to automatically shut that fact down when they see overly edited content.
A particular study done by a psychology professor at Florida State University found out that one in three women tend to alter their weight or shape before posting them on Instagram. The study was also linked to the likelihood of a probable eating disorder. The review of other studies indicates that the use of appearance-focused social media is associated with heightened body image and eating disorders.
For most people, it just seems easier to believe these unrealistic ideals. Some studies even suggest that likes and selfies have an impact on mood. In other words, whether or not a person’s selfie gets likes can affect how happy or sad they become.
Really, it all boils down to comparison. The frequent social comparison to this unrealistic ideal that Instagram users have been given as content trigger emotions of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and bad body image.
Instagram Encourages Uncurbed Time Wastage
Instagram reels have their way of sucking all of one’s time because reel contents are limitless on the gram. Simply put, Instagram can be time-consuming and addictive.
Instagram stats state that about 70% of Instagram users watch reels. According to Sensis Social Media Report 2015, the overall average time per usage is 9.02 minutes. Now, in 2022, the average time spent is 24.1 minutes.
Unlike other media like magazines, television or even news websites, Instagram does not deliver any cues that indicate a time-out. Its unlimited content can consume so much attention and time and thereby render people unproductive for hours (and even days.)
This turns out to be a negative psychological experience. This irresponsible use of time often reduces people’s quality of life and prevents them from actually acting out their dreams and goals.
What Then Is The Way Out?
Whether we like it or not, social media has come to stay for good. Instagram for one has helped improve communication, artistic abilities, and network marketing.
The platform is one good tool for keeping memories for as long as one pleases. Unless your account is removed from Instagram, your posts will always be there. However, these benefits in no way overrule its effects on people’s mental health.
So, since it is still going to be in use as human beings aren’t likely to give up social media any time soon, the following are healthier ways to make use of these platforms.
1. Be More Conscious and Aware
Generally, living consciously every day has huge advantages for us as humans. Through awareness, we tend to notice the little things that make or break our lives.
So, the next time you go online, make sure to maintain a high level of consciousness as you scroll. Keep tabs of time and stop when you’re getting carried away.
Also, try as much as possible to sensitize others about the dangers of social media overindulgence. Naturally, informing people about the need of maintaining their mental health will considerably reduce the social media illusion that fools most people.
The goal is for individuals to become more conscious of the effects of social media such that they can tell when something is bad and has started to affect their mental health.
2. Always Schedule Your Screen Time
If you are one of those that do not use social media for business, you can schedule a limited time of the day or week for Instagram.
For example, you can schedule Instagram and other social media for Friday. This way, every other day would be dedicated to getting things done outside the virtual world.
3. Stick To Notification
If you want to cut down on your Instagram time, you may have to rely on notifications to guide your social media usage.
However, this is only effective when you set your notifications to deliver only the most important messages. This way, you’ll only be able to check Instagram if a notification of important news or message appears.
For a business person, this would assist in canceling out unnecessary, time-consuming content that can drown out what matters.
4. Be Positive
Sometimes, you won’t be able to escape scrolling through instagram and viewing the “perfect” lives of others. What you can do, however, is choose to remain positive irrespective of what you see.
So, anytime you find yourself on Instagram or any of the popular social Platforms, always bring your shield of positivity and self acceptance with you.
Psychologists have asserted that, depending on what it is used for, Instagram can be either a healthy or harmful site to be on. This discovery is still under research.
However, once you scroll through the gram in in a state of awareness, you will not be easily influenced by the curated images of others. All in all, what matters is that Instagram, like any other social media platform, be used responsibly.