how social networking can affect users – WAU

With the rise of Instagram as a prominent social network of the moment, increasingly evident indicators have emerged that this channel can cause and intensify damage to users’ mental health. Read the text and know the effects that this network can have on people and learn how to minimize them.

The presence on social networks is almost unanimous among people, especially if we consider the young audience, aged between 14 and 25. As the volume of content and time spent by users on these platforms only tends to increase, there are more and more evident, and worrying, the consequences of this exposure.

Instagram appeared less than 10 years ago, but it has already deeply impacted interpersonal relationships, both on and off the internet.

Considering the high volume of accounts on the platform, which in 2018 reached the mark of 1 billion active users, and the predominant age group in the application, which is between 18 and 24 years old (75% of users), it is possible to begin to understand the degree of relevance that the network has in the lives of young people.

The platform, which at first bet on sharing photos as the main form of communication, today allows users to express themselves through the most different formats.

Maintaining a virtual identity has become a major challenge and demand for young people who are part of the network. Now, in addition to the photos that portray everyday life, it is also possible to use stories to record, even more, almost every moment of the routine.

Consequences that can arise from this overexposure (both of yourself and of other users’ posts) commonly cited are anxiety, depression and dissatisfaction with the body, recurring factors not only on instagram, but also on other networks.

In this content, we will understand how Instagram can be harmful to users and what the company is doing to get around this situation and minimize damage.

The complexity of the theme

First of all, it is important to understand that the theme of mental health in the Digital Age is something very complex and broad. The conditions of anxiety, depression and other diseases are very varied and it is almost impossible to draw a direct cause and effect line between Instagram and these conditions.

The purpose of this text is, therefore, to try to understand patterns of behavior identified through research that say about young people’s online consumption. In addition to indicating what situations can be enhanced using these platforms.

The negative side of Instagram

A study by RSPH (Royal Society for Public Health) sought to understand which social networks are most harmful to users and in which aspects they cause harm. Instagram was the platform with the lowest positive rating, ranking 5th.

The ranking follows the order of the least harmful network to the most harmful and resulted in:

  1. Youtube
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. Snapchat
  5. Instagram

Among the main elements that caused damage were observed the interference in the quality of sleep, the result of factors ranging from action notifications, which compel the user to return to the application to the infinite scroll feed, which causes the sensation of inexhaustible content.

Another latent question on Instagram concerns dissatisfaction with the image that people have of their own bodies. The great aggravating factor of the network is the power that audiovisual, the main engine on Instagram, has about building an ideal of “perfect life”.

This kind of self-image view is the result of a sum of elements that do not originate within Instagram.

But if we think about the infinity of personalities profiles that fit the desired biotype and people from everyday life who constantly share content that can reinforce a certain type of body pattern as correct and / or more beautiful we can understand where this related topic comes from self-acceptance.

An alarming data concerns the fact that 9 out of 10 women are not satisfied with the body they have. With the possibility of editing photos and applying filters, it becomes even more difficult to combat the search for unreachable bodies.

Another phenomenon that is being increasingly discussed in the Digital Age is the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out or fear of losing something) which calls an anxiety condition resulting from the feeling that the user is wasting time or should be in another place doing something. activity.

In addition to these, Bullying, which is a subject that has been on the agenda for some time, unfortunately, is a common behavior not only within Instagram, but on other online platforms.

The sense of anonymity and security on these channels encourages malicious users to constantly share disrespectful messages.

There is no need to reinforce how much this type of behavior can affect users’ mental health (especially when considering the main age group of this network). And cases like this are very common. I bet you know someone who’s been through something like that, right?

What Instagram is doing about it

Although it is important to recognize and understand what are the points where social networks can be harmful, it is interesting to recognize and look at the positive impacts that these channels can bring to the daily lives of young people.

In the same survey that showed the dark side of the network, it was also possible to identify some points that can favor the experience of young people inside and outside the application. Even serving as a way to combat some of the negative aspects.

The possibility of expressing oneself and building an identity were highlights, since Instagram allows users to be able to portray part of who they are and share this with others, creating relationships based on identification.

This is one of the principles that guide interaction not only on Instagram, but on other social networks.

The possibility that we mentioned above is also directly related to the creation of communities. From grouping people who are interested in debating a certain topic or theme, to the existence of profiles that become a reference in updates and information on subjects ranging from cooking to pets.

Another relevant factor that was highlighted in the report was the existence of emotional support. Despite the existence of cyberbullying, it is common for people who share situations of vulnerability to find comfort and help within the platform.

The moment a user posts about a mental health experience, the scope of this publication can also have a positive effect on his followers. Sharing experiences and learning about this type of issue can influence those who need help.

This topic was one of the company’s inspirations to create measures aimed at combating the proliferation of harmful content.

What are Instagram’s actions to combat the problems

One of the most talked about measures of recent times was the end of likes on the platform. We know that the network has a large number of reasons to hide this information from users who go from losses with profiles that buy tanned to issues related to mental health (which were very emphasized by the platform in its justifications).

Whatever the motivations behind this action, one thing is certain: hiding likes makes it difficult to compare profiles. This can be a first step to alleviate the obsession with winning likes as a way of approving success or guaranteeing quality of content.

The idea of ​​the perfect feed no longer attracts as much as before and authenticity is an increasingly valued feature on a platform that is already saturated with portraits of idealized lives.

Not showing the number of likes relieves, in a way, this pressure to avoid sharing certain content because of the possibility that they are not as popular as a selfie or a portrait of a photogenic meal.

Another measure implemented by the social network in 2018 was the function that lets the user know how much time he spent using the app. This initiative seeks to raise awareness and empower the user over the platform.

In this way, it is possible to adjust warnings that notify the user when the network usage time is exceeded (configured by those using the network).

Another measure of the network that not all users are aware of is offering help to users who search for the terms “anxiety” or “depression”.

The moment you search for any of the terms Instagram automatically displays the following message:

instagram support message for anxiety searches

When the user chooses to receive support, the platform offers three options. The first is contact with a friend, the second is to speak with a support volunteer from the Life Valuation Center (CVV – 144) and the third function is the app’s own tips on how to get help.

instagram help for anxiety and depression searches

Moving towards an open dialogue

Nowadays there is much more talk about issues related to mental health in relation to the past. This understanding is also reflected in the Digital Age which, despite presenting aspects that can directly affect the internet user, it can also be a source of information and a place for help.

Therefore, it is important that these platforms continue to recognize and update themselves to enable, every day, a healthy navigation for your audience. The measures we cited are the beginning of a larger dialogue regarding how the internet can be a friendlier and less hostile place.

Taking into account all the behavioral changes presented on the network, influencers are also looking to change the way they offer content to the public, adapting better to the new interests of the audience. See more how this has been done in our post!