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Dec 5, 2021 6 min read

Is Instagram to Blame for the Rise in Self-Harm Amongst Teenage Girls?

Is Instagram to Blame for the Rise in Self-Harm Amongst Teenage Girls?
Photo by Sydney Sims / Unsplash

Wiser! Essay: Rates of self-harm, depression and social anxiety continue to rise amongst teenage girls. The question is why?

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Back Story:  Between 2010 and 2014, the rates of self-harm, depression and anxiety amongst teenage girls doubled.

The same can not be said for boys in the same age range, or for women who are older. This is unusual and the cause is unknown. However, a pair of social psychologists have been studying the data from North American and UK studies and are trying to get to the bottom of it. Their conclusion; Instagram exploits the natural vulnerabilities in a developing adolescent girl.

"When a boy steps away from the console, he does not spend the next few hours worrying about what other players are saying about him. Instagram, in contrast, can loom in a girl’s mind even when the app is not open, driving hours of obsessive thought, worry, and shame."

The research suggests that Instagram's toxicity does not come from malicious coding of the algorithms. Instead, it is the nature of a platform that girls use to post photographs of themselves and await the public judgments of others.

In 2017, British researchers asked 1,500 teens to rate how each of the major social media platforms affected them on certain well-being measures, including anxiety, loneliness, body image, and sleep. Instagram scored as the most harmful, followed by Snapchat and then Facebook.


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