Instagram Rated Worst Platform For Mental Health

By Fin Sheridan

Last week, the BBC reported on a survey that named photo sharing service Instagram as being the worst for its impact on the mental health of young people.

According to the article, “The online survey asked participants a series of questions about whether YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter had an impact on their health and well-being. Participants were asked to score each platform on 14 health and well-being issues.

Based on these ratings, YouTube was considered to have the most positive impact on mental health, followed by Twitter and then Facebook. Snapchat and Instagram were given the lowest scores overall.”

Instagram and Snapchat both revolve around the sharing of photos so it’s not hard to imagine why they rated lowest.

Instagram seems committed to tapping into another of our deep needs: the need for compliments. Literally millions of us (50 million, as of November 2016) are driven to get the most perfect picture, skilfully edited, with just the best light. Why? Because there are 4.2 billion posts ‘liked’ per day on Instagram and we want a slice of that action.

“We compare moments that should be above comparison”

Capturing and posting your special moments is not a problem. It’s a wonderful chance to stay up to date with friends, family and people whose lives we are interested in. It gives talking points when you haven’t seen someone in a while and need to get conversation flowing: “Oh, I saw you went away recently. How was your holiday?”.

What can be an issue is the trap of being personally validated, and having our special moments validated, by the amount of attention they get on Instagram. We compare moments that should be above comparison: weddings, engagement pictures, Christmases, things that are precious and unique and don’t need affirmation from an online audience to tell us that they are worthwhile.

Instagram is telling a gospel but don’t let it be THE Gospel for you. The only validation, the only ‘little heart’ we need, is found in Galatians 2:20: we live by the Son of God, who loves us and gave himself for us.

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