If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram, you know how easy it is to look at one of those perfectly edited photos and wonder why your life doesn’t look like the flawless lives depicted on the screen. We instinctively know—because we’ve all experienced it in one form or another—that social media can contribute to unhealthy feelings of comparison, but the Wall Street Journal recently published an article sharing how Instagram can be particularly harmful to teen girls. What’s worse, Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, knows just how harmful it can be.
What Are the Dangers?
According to the Wall Street Journal article, internal Facebook research demonstrates that about one-third of teen girls report feeling worse about their bodies after using Instagram and that comparing themselves to people they see on Instagram can actually change how girls view themselves.
The article elaborates that teens recognize Instagram has a negative influence on their body image and mental health. A small percentage even said they had felt the desire to kill themselves and linked the feelings to Instagram use. Some teens reported learning about behaviors related to eating disorders on social media.
It’s worth noting, the article continues, that many of these dangers are more pronounced on Instagram, as opposed to other social media platforms. The visually driven app focuses on bodies and lifestyle, and if a user interacts with one type of content, Instagram’s algorithm will show them more content like it.
How Can We Keep Our Kids Safe?
The Wall Street Journal article makes it clear that we cannot rely on social media platforms and their parent companies to keep our kids safe and healthy. That responsibility lies squarely with us as parents. So what can we do?
For one, let’s keep our kids off social media until they are older. While social media can be a great tool for connecting (and your child will likely express a lot of FOMO about not being on it), the risks of comparison and detriments to mental health simply outweigh potential benefits. (For that reason, social media apps are not available within Troomi’s suite of KidSmart™ Apps.)
We can also be informed on the latest research regarding technology and kids. Too much technology use in general can contribute to loneliness and other challenges that erode confidence and self-esteem, so it should be used with intentionality for helping kids excel in school and enjoy healthy hobbies, not as a default means for passing time.
As an option that lets your child communicate with you safely while avoiding these risks, Troomi offers a phone with no social media apps or addictive games. Troomi enables parents to match the functionality of the phone to the needs and maturity of their children—giving them everything they need with nothing they don’t. (And you get to decide what that means for your child and your family.)
We want all kids to be safe, confident, happy, and hopeful. So let’s teach them the risks that come with technology use and help them develop healthy habits that will empower, not endanger, them.