Social media company, Facebook, has repeatedly found that its photo-sharing app is mentally harmful and toxic to a significant percentage of teenagers, according to a new report.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Facebook conducted internal studies over the past three years that examined how Instagram affects its young user base, with the study finding out that teenage girls are the most notably harmed.
One internal Facebook presentation said that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.
“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the researchers reportedly wrote. Facebook also reportedly found that 14% of boys in the U.S. said Instagram made them feel worse about themselves.
While Facebook concluded that a large percentage of teenagers aren’t negatively harmed by Instagram, according to the Journal, the features that the social media company identified as the most harmful are part of its key makeup like it’s explore page and it’s filter features.
According to the report, researchers warned Instagram’s Explore page, which serves users selected posts from a wide range of accounts, can push users into content that can be harmful.
The app also has a culture of posting only the best pictures and videos, and it can be very addictive.
“Aspects of Instagram exacerbate each other to create a perfect storm,” the research said, according to the Journal.
Top executives have reviewed the research, according to the Wall Street Journal, and it was cited in a presentation given last year to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook is now reportedly building a version of Instagram for kids under age 13.
Young users are a key to Instagram’s success as more than 40% of Instagram’s users are 22 years old and younger.
Instagram has now responded to the report.
Instagram’s head of public policy, Karina Newton, said the company is researching ways to pull users away from dwelling on certain types of Instagram posts.
“We’re exploring ways to prompt them to look at different topics if they’re repeatedly looking at this type of content,” Newton said. “We’re cautiously optimistic that these nudges will help point people towards content that inspires and uplifts them, and to a larger extent, will shift the part of Instagram’s culture that focuses on how people look.”
US lawmaker, Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., has made children’s mental health concerns in connection with social media a huge topic in Washington and blasted Facebook for trying to create am Instagram app for kids
She called for Facebook to “immediately abandon plans for Instagram for Kids” and focus instead on protecting existing young users.
“Facebook’s internal documents show that the company’s failure to protect children on Instagram – especially young girls – is outright neglect, and it’s been going on for years,” Trahan said in a statement.
“Facebook has no business developing additional social media platforms explicitly designed for our children when they can’t be trusted to keep their current house in order.”