*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on Parents.com.
A bombshell report in the Wall Street Journal shows that Facebook, which owns Instagram, is well aware of the teen mental health crisis—and they’ve been purposely playing it down.
The WSJ reports that for the past three years, Facebook employees who work in data science, marketing, and product development have been researching exactly how the app affects young people.
In a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board, researchers pointed out that 32 percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves,” they noted.
Several of the many troubling conclusions that the WSJ uncovered from the internal documents:
- “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.”
- “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression. This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
- More than 40 percent of Instagram users who reported feeling “unattractive” said the feeling began on the app.
- “Sharing or viewing filtered selfies in stories made people feel worse.”
And yet, as the WSJ points out, Facebook, which is currently working on a version of Instagram for children under 13, has played down these negative effects. “The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental health benefits,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a March 2021 congressional hearing.