A recent study found that Instagram had the worst impact on teen’s mental health, followed closely by Snapchat and Twitter. Photo: iStock

A recent study found that Instagram had the worst impact on teen’s mental health, followed closely by Snapchat and Twitter. Photo: iStock 

Would you be happier using social media if you no longer had to worry about getting any new followers or tons of likes and comments? Rapper Kanye West recently spoke out about the detrimental effect of social media on its users, and research backs up his concern with teens taking the brunt of the pressure. 

Rates of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues among teens have risen 70 percent in the past 25 years, according to recent research by The Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. According to those health experts, teens' constant use of social media an underlying reason for the struggle. 

The study, called #StatusOfMind, showed that Instagram had the worst impact on teens' mental health, followed closely by Snapchat and Twitter.

“Social media is a filtered, curated portrayal of our peers’ lives and a sharp contrast to actual life," Titania Jordan, Chief Parenting Officer of Bark, told Metro. "Photos of your friends have been airbrushed to add tans, blur cellulite, and remove stretch marks. This generation is feeling the brunt of 'The Comparison Trap' without being given the necessary perspective to see the entire picture."

 

The modern social media culture has created a pressure cooker for teens in which the number of likes or followers they receive on their posts define their identities. Getting more likes and new followers lead to the feeling of appreciation and validation, causing teens to constantly seek more and more. 

“Getting a like or a new follower stimulates the same part of your brain as sugar, sex, or drugs," Jordan said. "Social media addiction is real, and these networks know it."

Key takeaways from #StatusOfMind study on teen social media use

-91 percent of 16 to 24-year-olds use the web for social networking

-Social media can be more addictive than cigarettes and even alcohol

-Rates of anxiety and depression in young people have risen 70 percent in 25 years

-Social media use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep

-Seven in 10 young people say they've endured cyberbullying

Is Kanye West onto something about the downfalls of social media?

Kanye West has criticized the overuse of social media

Outspoken social media user and rapper Kanye West is calling for an end to this dark side of social media culture, and claims to have been in contact with the heads of Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter to try and figure out ways to end the constant stress of chasing likes, comments, and followers among teens.

“There are people who are committing suicide due to not getting enough likes. Seeking validation in the simulation,” West shared recently, and ironically, on Twitter. "I personally want to participate in social media with the option of not having to show my followers of likes," West said. 

West believes that if social media platforms had the option of hiding the number of followers or likes, users would be better off.

"Having your amount of likes on display for the world to see and judge is like showing how much money you have in the bank..." he said.

West shared the conversation that he had with Jack Dorsey, the CEO and one of the founders of Twitter and with Ben Schwerin, Snapchat’s head of partnerships in which they appeared to agree with West’s criticism. Dorsey a that the pressure that they dynamic needs to change.

"[Snapchat] was never about vanity metrics defining who they are, or their self-worth," Schwerin told West in a text, which the rapper later made public. "I think constantly comparing yourself to others' 'perfect' lives and feeling like you're in a perpetual popularity contest can be a very negative experience." 

Dorsey reiterated West's concern, saying "We've been thinking deeply about the follower and like counts, and what that incentivizes. We want to change. What made sense 12 years ago doesn't make sense today."

Studies have also shown that there are negative effects to taking selfies, especially when users apply "beautifying selfie apps" like Snapchat to edit their pictures. 

"What we see with selfie culture is the editing and re-editing of identity." And that is a dangerous game to play," Dr. Linda Papadopoulos told Teen Vogue. Making matters worse is the emergence of so-called Snapchat Dysmorphia, a psychological affliction that is similar to body dysmorphia. The disorder is brought on by the use of Snapchat filters that users believe improve physical appearance. Those who suffer from Snapchat Dysmorphia are said to go so far as to seek plastic surgery to look more Insta-worthy.

So, would quitting social media make you happier? While there is no definitive answer, signs seem to point to yes for 19-year-old Fanny Moell, who recently told Metro she feels down when her social media posts don't get as much interaction as she'd hoped. 

"I often feel that I don’t have enough followers or likes," said Moell, who is a Parsons student living in Brooklyn. "When I don’t receive the amount of likes or comments that I wanted I immediately feel insecure and starts to feel bad about myself, sometimes I even delete the picture. There’s a kind of status in having many likes or followers. It shows that people like you."