Internal research conducted by Facebook details the impact that social media has on teens’ mental health.
The tech company has been collecting data through focus groups, online surveys, and diary studies in the United States and the United Kingdom since at least 2019.
The Wall Street Journal released a special report on Tuesday citing information from leaked documents.
“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” a slide from a 2019 internal presentation says.
“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.” an internal presentation from March 2020 says. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”
“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression. This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”
According to USA Today, 13% of British teenagers and 6% of teenagers in the United States attributed Instagram to their suicidal impulses. A 2019 study found that 14% of boys in the United States blamed Instagram for their negative feelings about themselves.
A study published in Current Opinion in Psychology found that social media usage increases social comparisons.
Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, announced in 2018 that the tech company would be undergoing a major overhaul. The company wants people to have more “meaningful connections” on the platforms and have worked to create “meaningful social interactions” over “relevant content.” Zuckerberg told Inc, “We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being.”
“It demonstrates our commitment to understanding complex and difficult issues young people may struggle with, and informs all the work we do to help those experiencing these issues,” the Head of Public Policy at Instagram, Karina Newton, said.
In August, Senators Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn requested that Zuckerberg release Facebook’s internal research on how mental health impacts young people. The Wall Street Journal says that the company released a six-page letter that did not include its own studies.
Blumenthal and Blackburn, who are the Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, said that the panel “would take additional steps to look into Facebook’s knowledge of its platforms’ negative impact on teenagers and young users.”