Social Media and Mental Health: An Instagram Study

I guess an ideal place to start would be telling you what made me create Beauty by Disaster and what possessed me to spend £50 of my hard-earned cash on a domain on WordPress…

I have always been so interested in the impact of social media on mental health. Being a late 90’s baby myself, social media blew up when I was in the early stages of teenage-hood. I remember being around 11 years old when I first made a Facebook account – madness!

Since a young age, social media has always had a big impact on my life. I have always been somewhat aware of potential influences and how mental health can be affected through consistent use of social media, however it was only recently that I noticed the brutal truth.

Waking up in the morning, the first thing I do is reach for my phone. Before I close my eyes to go to sleep, the last thing I saw was my phone. I don’t even want to imagine how many hours I’ve wasted aimlessly scrolling through pages of beautiful people and fake lifestyles. I would love to delete all social media (and believe me I have tried) however it always finds a way to creep back in.

I’m not going to sit here and say ‘all social media is bad, let’s ban it’ because social media simply isn’t all bad. In fact, I’ve met so many amazing people through social media and find it it plays a key tool in keeping me connected with my long distance friends and family.

However, with the rise in ‘influencers’ and ‘instagram models’, my once favourite social media platform, Instagram, took a dark turn to be an area for comparing myself to others and constantly feeling unworthy and inferior to others. I’ve always been aware of this but never really had the balls to say enough is enough and delete all social media.

Personally, I use Instagram as a means of blogging and documenting life events. But there is an undeniable pursuit of self-esteem, filtering my pictures and making my Instagram profile look pretty and exciting.

A Psychological Study

Anyway, in light of my MSc Psychology study I have chosen to focus on the impact of social media on young people and their mental health. To gather information on this, I decided to annoy my followers with a lengthy Instagram story full of mental health related poll questions, fun!

To my shock, I received a high volume of responses and not gonna lie, I really enjoyed going through the answers and nosying at who said what. I thought I’d share with you the statistics of what the youth of today think of social media and how platforms such as Instagram have impacted our lives. Here’s what I found:

The Truth

Over 1000 young Instagrammers viewed and participated in my annoying poll questions, which revealed some shocking evidence towards my study.

  • 80% of Instagrammers said that social media influences their life in a negative way
  • 87% of Instagrammers said that social media has lead them to wish their quality of life was better
  • 80% of Instagrammers said they would be happier without social media in their lives
  • 93% of Instagrammers said that social media is likely to make younger generations more materialistic

There’s clearly a problem here, right? It saddened me to see so many people compare themselves and allow social media to influence their minds in a negative way. This really pushes me to create Beauty by Disaster because as I get older, I realise how ridiculous all of this social media comparison is.

It’s not all bad! In my poll, it was revealed that 73% of Instagrammers’ insight into another persons mental health was improved through social media posts meaning social media can be used as a tool for helping others. And so, here we are.

Isn’t it time we dropped the bullshit and realised that comparing ourselves to fake personas on Instagram is a pointless waste of our time and mental capacity? Yeah, you might want to look like that girl in the picture. The girl in the picture wants to look like that too! But, unless you find a way to walk around with a constant pout and a pleasing Valencia filter plastered across your body then unfortunately, we have to stick with how we truly look to the world.

Here’s some advice: whenever you find yourself comparing yourself to others or longing for a life you’ve seen on Instagram (like I do, a lot!) then take a moment to look at the bigger picture. Take a step back, count at least 5 things you like about your own life and remember that there’s always someone out there who wants the things that you are fortunate enough to have. Nobody is you, and that is your power ✌🏽

– Beauty by Disaster x

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