A new study has found another damning link between social media and mental health
The connection between social media and mental health is a source of constant fascination. After Instagram model Essena O’Neill publicly scrapped the site last year for its high demands and plasticky pretense, she left many bewildered. After all, how could social media – a force that’s supposed to bring us together – ever be that harmful?
“I spent 12-16 wishing I could receive validation from numbers on a screen,” she explained in a statement shortly after. “I didn't find happiness in social approval, constantly edited and shooting my life. So I decided to quit.”
Since then, there have been many scientists, journalists and academics who have delved deeper into this idea – but one team from Florida State University believe they may have found an answer. A new study undertaken by them has revealed that the number of selfies you post on Instagram could be directly linked to how you feel about yourself – and may end up having a negative impact on your personal relationships.
The team, led by Dr. Jessica Ridgeway and Dr. Russell Clayton, surveyed 420 Instagram users between the ages of 18 and 62 – quizzing them about the amount of selfies they took, how it made them feel, and the state of both their friendships and romantic relationships. The results found a direct link between body satisfaction and social perception (likes), with levels of self-esteem rising when other users responded well. When a photo would do less well, or negativity was perceived, satisfaction would lower – and the chance of “Instagram-related conflict” would rise.
“Body image satisfaction was sequentially associated with increased Instagram selfie posting and Instagram-related conflict, which related to increased negative romantic relationship outcomes,” the researchers summarised. “These findings suggest that when Instagram users promote their body image satisfaction in the form of Instagram selfie posts, risk of Instagram-related conflict and negative romantic relationship outcomes might ensue.”
In other words, you argue more when you're feeling crap about yourself – and if you’re using Instagram too much, that could be playing a much bigger role than you realise. Sounds pretty tenuous, but the results don’t lie.
Read more about the effects social media can have on mental illness here.