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Instagram and mental health: The double-edged sword

The emergence of social networks in the digital world has meant a true revolution, not only in terms of the way we communicate and transmit a message to the rest of the world in just a few clicks, but also affecting various aspects of the lives of millions. of people who use social networks daily.

Both Instagram and other social networks have also opened many new possibilities for doing business or making money, so many users seek to become successful influencers and make a living from social networks thanks to their millions of followers, whether they obtain them through organically or through various services for Instagram focused on digital marketing.

Although social networks have been an important part of the Internet for several years, the truth is that they are still a relatively new phenomenon that can have numerous positive effects on people, but on the other hand can have a negative impact on certain aspects of life. mental health. And in this sense, Instagram stands out as the social network that most affects the human psyche in one way or another.

What the studies say

Various studies have sought to analyze from a scientific point of view how daily use of social networks such as Instagram affects mental health.

The Royal Society for Public Health of the United Kingdom published a report called “StatusOfMind” in which it developed a study on the effect of social networks among the younger population, conducting a survey of people with an age range between 14 and 24 years old.

The report’s conclusions point out that Instagram can cause various negative effects on mental health, including lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, and a particular effect characteristic of Instagram called “FOMO” (Fear of missing out), that is, the fear of missing something important by not being permanently connected.

However, not all of the report has a pessimistic halo. As noted in the study, Instagram can also bring several benefits and positive effects to the mental health of young people, since this social network helps improve self-esteem, reinforce identity and self-expression, as well as provides emotional support through its social character and is ideal for building a community around common interests.

Body image on Instagram

Social networks have a direct impact on symptoms such as anxiety or depression, but in the case of Instagram, one of the mental problems most directly related to this social network is related to body image.

Before the rise of social networks, it was fashion and beauty magazines that used to create trends and offer an almost perfect image of models in their pages, which had an impact on the expectations of many women in the search for the ideal body.

Instagram completely changed the game board. The photographs that are usually uploaded to Instagram present an almost perfect but unreal image, since most of the images are carefully selected and retouched with image editing tools such as Photoshop with the aim of hiding any defects. This situation has caused surprising statistics, with 9 out of 10 adolescents who do not feel satisfied with their body and want to change their physical appearance.

Young women mistakenly compare themselves with exuberant models in swimsuits or with all kinds of celebrities and celebrities, who generally have an army of makeup artists, professional hairdressers or personal trainers to achieve that perfect image, in addition to the corresponding retouching. of subsequent Photoshop or the inclusion of various filters to improve the image.

Instagram and sleep disorder

The importance of sleep and sleeping the necessary hours so that the brain can rest is something well known by science and psychology, and is directly related to our mental health.

The previously mentioned feeling of missing out (FOMO) and the addiction that social networks like Instagram can create cause a negative impact on both the quantity of sleep and the quality of sleep.

This is why all studies on mental health indicate that it is especially harmful to use Instagram or other social media at night, because the lighting from mobile phones or computers interferes with brain activity. There are even more and more common cases of people (particularly young people) waking up during the night to check if they have any new messages on Instagram, thus causing both the body and the brain not to rest the hours they need.

Conclusion

It is indisputable that social networks like Instagram not only offer many opportunities at all levels, both personal and commercial, but their use can have numerous positive effects on people’s mental health and opens a window to the world to express themselves that would otherwise be impossible. many people wouldn’t have it.

However, it is also important to know the possible negative consequences that excessive use can bring, especially among younger users who already form a generation that has grown up with the daily use of social networks. Thanks to these scientific studies that analyze the impact of Instagram and social platforms on mental health, these negative effects can be better prevented and alleviated, and there are already, for example, various proposals to notify when a photo has been digitally retouched, and new platforms and initiatives continually emerge to teach the use responsible for social networks, as well as help for those who consider that it is negatively affecting them, where they can express their concerns and problems to find a solution.

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