“There’s no escaping it,” wrote psychiatrist and journalist Dr. Max Pemberton. “Instagram promotes feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, and should be banned for children under the age of 18.” Those were the words Pemberton chose to end his tirade against social media giant Instagram. Not one to mince his words, the doctor called the site a “the worst social media platform for youngsters’ mental health” in his article for TheDailyMail.co.uk.
According to Pemberton, Instagram is especially detrimental to the mental health of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 because this period is when they look to outside sources in forming their identities. Beyond themselves and their friends, they turn to other people to aid them in developing their sense of self-worth. If they look towards social media platforms such as Instagram, however, then that search for identity becomes more difficult, and even jeopardized.
“The site is awash with people showing off — posting images of their supposedly perfect lives,” Pemberton stated. The constant bombardment of imagery containing “fun holidays, meals and parties” puts an unbelievable amount of pressure on the easily impressionable youth. While adults on Instagram can take everything they see with a grain of salt, younger people struggle to discern the truth from what is simply being fabricated for likes and views. “With the exposure and scrutiny that sites like this bring, their peers feel under pressure to present overhyped versions of their own lives.” (Related: Is Social Media Destroying or Building Self Esteem?)
Of the wealthy or those who hobnob with the wealthy and post about their exploits on Instagram, Pemberton criticized them as well. “They bombard followers with pictures of unspeakably glamorous nights out, diamond jewellery, designer shoes and exotic holidays. It is a revolting orgy of brash consumerism, teaching youngsters that in order to be seen as successful, they must look, dress and behave in a certain way,” he stated.
That’s why Pemberton is all for banning children and teenagers from Instagram. To him, Instagram has nothing meaningful to offer them apart from shallow, superficial, and ultimately damaging views of themselves. It’s a sentiment that numerous posters shared in the comments section.
“All Instagram does for children is make them believe that looks and money are the most important things in the world. I won’t let my children on it,” posted the user rebrebrobs. Another user with the screen name DD concurred and wrote: “I’m not sure that there is any benefit in social media of any sort.”
In fact, a report by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK ranked Instagram as the worst social networking app for the mental health of young people. Researchers surveyed nearly 1,500 young people aged 14 to 24 for their study, and the response on Instagram turned out largely negative.
For more stories on the effects of social media, visit VirtualReality.news.