Facebook is facing criticism for keeping secret the results of an internal study which revealed that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is having a negative impact on the mental health of teenage users. Despite these findings, the social media giant is still looking for new ways to ensure that impressionable teens and children become engrossed in using its products in the future, even if it is detrimental to their health.
Instagram harmful to teens
One American organization likened Facebook to a tobacco company which markets an addictive product to children, despite knowing that it will be unhealthy for them.
The Wall Street Journal revealed that the company made a number of findings which it preferred to not make public and is not attempting to dispute now.
The results of the internal research showed that teenagers frequently blamed Instagram for increased levels of depression and anxiety in their age group.
The company privately acknowledged that “We make body-image issues worse for one in three teenage girls” in an internal discussion of the results.
Approximately 13% of teenagers in the UK and 6% in the United States reported that they associated suicidal thoughts with Instagram use.
These are just some of the more easily quantifiable statistics relating to the damage Facebook and Instagram can cause to individuals who become addicted to social media.
Facebook aims to entice younger users
While it was operating multi-year studies into these effects for its own private use, Facebook is accused of attempting to shut down external research into the negative effects of its platforms.
The company is, in fact, working to market Instagram to even younger audiences, despite its own findings about what extensive use of the platform did to the currently allowed over-13 demographic.
Instagram Youth is supposedly being developed to keep children safe online by giving them a restricted version of the app which will not contain advertisements or certain content.
What goes unsaid is that Facebook is developing a supposedly child-friendly version to entice a new generation of social media addicts who will be even more deeply affected by what they see being posted.
Mark Zuckerberg dismissed concerns about the findings and claimed that they were too ambiguous to draw any conclusions about the effects of Instagram, despite the fact that the company itself was willing to privately draw those conclusions.
The potential for social media to brainwash people and worsen their mental health will be drastically expanded if Facebook succeeds in its efforts to catch prospective users at an even younger age.