This is confirmed by a clinical psychologist and lecturer at the Canadian University of Sherbrooke, Andre-Ann Leggari, in a statement to Sky News Arabia: “I personally treat many young people who face more or less severe difficulties related to their use of social networks and the Internet in general. My scientific research on adolescents who have difficulties due to social networks.
“Overall, heavy social media use is associated with an increased risk of experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, or dissatisfaction with body image,” she says.
The psychologist adds that many teenagers, as well as adults, may have difficulties accepting their external appearance compared to the revised photos displayed on Instagram.
“Many people who are role models, such as celebrities, artists and influencers, use apps and filters to beautify and retouch photos and videos posted on social networks, thus presenting an altered, even unrealistic, image of their bodies. Teens and adults may struggle with a variety of It’s harassment related to wanting to conform to this unrealistic image. As a result of their followers questioning their body image, they try to adopt behaviors that allow them to approach this ideal body image.”
Not enough effort
In contrast, Leghari considers that Facebook is implementing various strategies to combat the potential negative impact of its social networks on its users, but they are probably not enough.
In this section, the psychological expert suggests removing the number of likes under the posts and indicating that the image is revised, similar to Norway. Targeted advertising and sponsored content can also be better controlled to avoid postings promoting plastic surgery or weight loss regimens by minors. For heavy usage, you prefer to implement strategies to control the time spent on the app or limit usage times.”
Regarding the role of parents in protecting their children from this negative influence, she believes that they should play the role of a guide, and be a role model for their children.
So, she says, “Parents can first pay attention to what their youngsters are seeing on social networks, and have an ongoing conversation about the perceived effects of such use. They may pay attention to signs of low mood, increased anxiety, and changes in eating habits.”
She concludes, “As a role model, parents themselves can avoid modifying images, changing their bodies or presenting a perfect body image on social media. Focusing on the regulated use of social media and choosing when to voluntarily disconnect.”
Perhaps the psychological expert’s speech is consistent with what was recently revealed by articles for the American newspaper, “The Wall Street Journal”, where, according to secret internal studies obtained, Facebook has been conducting studies for 3 years on the impact of Instagram on millions of young users.
According to the March 2020 internal study, “32 percent of teenage girls say that when they feel low in self-confidence and their bodies, Instagram makes it worse. Comparing perfect body shapes offered on this app can change how teenage girls see themselves and the way they describe themselves.” And one in five teenagers confirms that Instagram is hurting their self-confidence.
In a 2019 study, teenage girls accused Instagram of being responsible for their increased rates of anxiety and depression. And 13% of British users of the app and 6% of American users who said they wanted to kill themselves attributed it to the Photos app.
For reference, several independent studies, such as the one conducted by the Royal Society of Public Health in 2017, have already addressed the negative impact that the application of images can have on the level of self-esteem of adolescents, especially the fact that they are constantly faced with images of ideal bodies and lives.
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