Instagram Confirms It Has Unique Power to Harm Teen Girls’ Body Image

From ExtremeTech: Instagram has taken its deepest look yet at how its app impacts teens’ mental well-being, and the results aren’t good. The Wall Street Journal detailed the tech giant’s recent 18-month “teen mental health deep dive.” Based on its findings, 32 percent of teen girls have experienced diminished body image thanks to Instagram, and anywhere from six to 13 percent of teens who have experienced suicidal thoughts are able to trace those thoughts back to their Instagram use.

The general public is reasonably aware of social media’s effects on mental health. But Instagram’s research reveals it’s uniquely formatted to negatively impact users’ body image and encourage social comparison. Instagram admits its most harmful features are baked into its core, according to the report. These include its Explore page, which pushes algorithm-selected content to users based on demographic information and previous post interactions, as well as the app’s overall focus on body and lifestyle. When a user goes to take a photo in Stories mode, they’re offered thousands of filters aimed at enhancing the user’s facial structure and features, including ones that appear to lighten the user’s skin or slim their face. Another dangerous aspect of Instagram’s interface may also be found in its infinite scroll, where users are able to perpetually scroll through content without ever needing to refresh the page or hit a “next” button, resulting in a literally endless feed of “perfect” bodies and faces. According to Instagram itself, these features “exacerbate each other to create a perfect storm.”

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