If Instagram causes negative mental health, what’s the future of social media?

While social media is getting a bad rep, promising interventions can curb mental health issues.

If you ever gave Instagram the benefit of the doubt, the verdict’s officially in. Thanks to WSJ, we now know the mental health impact on teens is so negative — it actually introduces suicidal thoughts. Numbers don’t lie:

  • Over 40% of IG users are 22 or younger and 22 million teens log in each day in just the US alone
  • Of those with suicidal thoughts, 6% of American users (and 13% of British users) trace them back to Instagram

The Johns Hopkins Hospital director of eating-disorders program told the WSJ that her patients “learned about dangerous weight loss tactics via social media.

So, does that mean a mental health FDA’s on the way?

Not so fast, though TechCrunch might be onto something. While all data roads point this way (translation: IG does in fact alter our brains), we’re not quite there yet. Cue up an unexpected contender, TikTok.

Yes, you heard right. TikTok’s getting ahead. For starters, when users search for touchy keywords like “suicide,” they’re directed to local resources for support. For deeper engagement, TikTok’s also teaming up with independent experts to tackle stigma and share content that raises awareness about mental health topics.

Apparently, not all social media’s bad.

It’s more like a timeout. If things are so out of hand, how can we help our kids navigate the digital wild west better? “We, parents, educators, politicians need to equip our young people with the tools, the analytical skills to make healthy choices for themselves. Because they will get access to whatever they want to,” says co-founder of a UK-based body image and self-esteem awareness org. Also, case in point.

Maybe, a future exists where social media is used for healthy connection and awareness. Who’s in?

Written by Tiffany Wen

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