Are Instagram and Snapchat Really Bad for Teens?

I just read an article from Business Insider (and have now been seeing it everywhere else on the web) which boldly stated that Instagram and Snapchat are bad for children’s mental health based on a survey that asked teens to rate how a social media affected their mental health. And since I’m on both Instagram and Snapchat as well as pretty much every other social media, I had a few thoughts on this statement.

I admit that social media can be damaging to some people’s mental health. I’ve told many teens who’ve messaged me for help to get off social media completely because it was obvious how hurtful it was to their happiness, self-esteem, and general well-being. However, the tool is not to blame here. Just like some people aren’t mentally healthy enough to participate in sports or other activities, some others aren’t mentally healthy for social media or other activities.

In addition to depending on the mental health of the person to begin with, another objection I have is that it also depends on what you do with your social media. If all you follow are models on Instagram, then yes, you will feel bad about how you look because those pictures are of people who alter their bodies in real life and through Photoshop. There’s no way you’re going to look anything like that. And it’s natural to feel inferior when you’re constantly comparing yourself to someone who doesn’t depict reality. Or if you follow people who are constantly negative, you will feel more negative mentally. Even your friends aren’t really depicting reality in their pictures and posts. We as humans naturally want to present our best side to the world, and that carries over in social media. Rarely will you find someone who’s open and honest about their life.

And that’s why I’m completely transparent when it comes to my social life both physically and digitally, sharing my ups and downs to better to connect with my community and show how recognizing and overcoming your challenges happens in the real world.

One more objection I have is what you do outside of social media. If you’re not keeping up your mental health outside of social media, then it’s going to carry over into the digital world and you’ll rate the social media as negative.

To wrap up, of course social media can be damaging to your mental health, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. I’ve had countless number of people receive help after finding me through my social media, and those are the ones I know of.

So spread some light through your digital interactions and always remember to be unashamed to be the real you.