socialResearchers from the Royal Society for Public Health in the U.K. interviewed 1,500 some teens and young adults (age 14-24) to quantify the impact of social media on their health.  They looked at thing like depression, loneliness, body image, sleep, self-identity, and bullying.

The conclusion?  Instagram is the worst offender when it comes to mental health in the group studied.

“Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues.” – Shirley Cramer, Royal Society for Public Health

Instagram and Snapchat are image-focused, which led to the feelings of anxiety and inadequacy in young people, Cramer said.

  1. Instagram was rated “most negative”
  2. Snapchat
  3. Facebook
  4. Twitter
  5. YouTube was rated “most positive”


The group called on social media companies, policy makers, and government to take action to mitigate the negative effects with the following actions:

  • Introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media – include the support from young people for each of these recommendations
  • Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support
  • Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated

Download the full Social Media & Mental Health Report