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Gen Z loves their Instagram and TikTok. But, it’s a toxic relationship with Instagram. A study from Oklahoma State University reveals that Instagram inadvertently crushes teenagers’ self-esteem. This causes poor mental health and body image for our youths and many others.
This isn’t a new matter- it’s hard being a teenager and just waiting to turn into a pretty adult butterfly, which they see on IG. Some people are too good at Photoshop and with their filters to make things worse. This sets unrealistic expectations for teens, both male/female/other. Now, it’s a competition on who can get the most likes. Since Instagram is a media-based platform, it’s nearly impossible to “switch off” the digitally altered, perfect-looking people. Users report that influencers and models flood the “suggested” posts and “recommended for you.” Because of this, it makes it hard for them to escape from it, creating a vicious cycle. On top of that, teens spend hours on Instagram and TikTok. So, what can be done about it?
Remember Frances Haugen? She claims that Facebook knew the algorithm puts out toxic posts, but they assumed that such content would bring in profit. So, for example, the company will show skinny influencers & ads for weight loss. Facebook denies this. Yet, they are coming up with a solution. Now, Meta is creating a kid-friendly Instagram that won’t be filled with adult content and products. As of now, the minimum age to be on Instagram is 13, but we know that kids even younger are on the app. Hopefully, we can eliminate the toxic social media tendency to set unrealistic expectations for kids and adults.
First, we as a society need to learn to separate social media from reality. People *sometimes* lead fake lives on social media, making themselves appear more attractive/successful/whatever than they are. Second, we need to realize that relying on social media likes/comments for validation is the worst thing we can do to ourselves. We deserve to love ourselves more. Then, we need to teach the younger generation this as well. Teenagers are vulnerable, and we must protect them by not letting them compare themselves to fake Instagram and social media. The most important validation comes from within.
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