Facebook has come under fire for allegedly keeping secret for years that their platform Instagram is harmful to teen girls’ body image. It affects their mental state because the platform encourages young users to only display the best versions of themselves. It’s been proven that the more it makes girls depressed and lonely the more they use it.
“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” a subsequent presentation reported in March 2020.
As scary as this is, Facebook already has in the works a version of Instagram for kids.
Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has testified in front of congress regarding the platforms. If you have ever watched any of these proceedings, the lawmakers in congress seem to have a vague understanding of Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as Tic Tok and Snapchat. Another big issue is that the laws enacted to regulate the internet are decades old. Recently a psychology professor made an apt comparison:
“If you believe that R.J. Reynolds should have been more truthful about the link between smoking and lung cancer, then you should probably believe that Facebook should be more upfront about links to depression among teen girls.”
This isn’t a new problem. Before Instagram, there were Fashion Magazines making girls feel bad about their bodies. Before filters there was Photoshop. However, Facebook should be held accountable and do more to make our teens safe. Whether that happens or not, we can also talk to our teens. Encourage them to not follow people that make them feel this way. We as parents need to continue to guide responsible choices when it comes to social media, just the same as with other issues facing teens like drugs, alcohol, and sexuality.
Sit down with your teens and scroll with them (groans and all) and talk to them about who they follow, why they follow them, and how do they make them feel.
Here are some resources to help: