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Parents with teenage girls and what you need to know about Instagram

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Many parents don’t need to read Meta’s internal research to know that Instagram can be toxic to teens. People who identify as women are especially susceptible to content that triggers depression or body image problems. Following a September Wall Street Journal article that revealed that Meta (formerly known as Facebook and Instagram’s parent company) was aware of the negative impact of Instagram on teens, the social media giant he stated that his internal investigation was taken out of context.

However, last week, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri testified before a Senate subcommittee to address questions from lawmakers about the effect of the application on the mental health of its young users. Related story Madonna’s 6 children gathered for a winter photo of the whole family – see Lourdes Leon, her twins and more Instagram seems worried: the day before the hearing,

Mosseri posted a long post on blog detailing the new features that Instagram plans to launch next spring to make the app safer for teens, including a stricter approach to recommended content types, encouraging users not to pause too long on any theme and tools for parents to get more involved in their children’s social media experience.

As is customary in our increasingly high-tech world, many adults are making decisions about what is best for children. But what would teenage girls (especially their parents) really know about Instagram? And what advice do you give to children who are just starting to use the app? SheKnows interviewed 10 teenagers in the United States to get their honest, uncensored view of Instagram. (Instagram did not immediately respond to SheKnows’ request for comment).

Preteens and adolescents are especially vulnerable to body image problems. While Instagram requires users to be at least 13 years old, most of the teens we spoke with admitted to creating their accounts as preteens, and only one was 10 years old! And during those challenging high school years, Instagram made them feel like they weren’t up to par.

“I’m very aware of how I look, so when I see other people posting pictures where they look great, I feel less than that, which is pretty toxic to me in general,” says Natalie, a 14-year-old New York, New York. “Swimsuit ads will appear and it’s always the same body type, usually a slim blonde girl.” Instagram ads and recommended content also often lead to feelings of inferiority. “When I started on Instagram, I saw a lot of posts about diets and what to eat to have the perfect body, but now I’ve blocked a lot of them,” says Melody, a 13-year-old Queens girl. , New York.

Meanwhile, Shannon, a 14-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, complains about Instagram’s lack of body (and ethnic) diversity. “Swimsuit ads will show up and it’s always the same body type, usually a slim blonde girl,” she says. Users can bypass Instagram algorithms by hiding suggested ads and posts. But that puts teenagers in charge of doing the work of curating the content they are being offered.

Of course, as Sophia, 13, of Saratoga Springs, New York, points out, Instagram isn’t the only place teens feed on perfect-bodied nonsense. “It’s everywhere, on all media in general, not just on social media, like billboards, posters, and ads,” he says. The pressure to accumulate likes and followers is real. All the teens who spoke to us and mentioned the stress of counting their likes and followers and comparing their numbers to that of their peers.

“Half of my friends buy their fans and likes,” says Milla, a 16-year-old from Marshfield, Massachusetts. Many have experimented with hiding their similar counts, hoping not to compete. But there is still pressure from peers to keep these statistics public. “It’s very dirty,” says Maggie, a 15-year-old from Charleston, South Carolina.

“One of my best friends was in a photo back home with me that I posted, and she said, ‘Why would you close your likes?’ I said it didn’t matter. same photo and it kept bothering me to compare our tastes “. “Half of my friends buy their followers and likes.” You never know what you’ll find on the Explore page Because the content shown on the Explore page of the app is created by accounts that users don’t follow, what often appears is crap.

While many teens acknowledged that they found “inspiration” in this section, Milla warns, “You don’t know what you’re going to find; you can’t really control it. So there’s a risk. It can be triggering.” Instagram can be a waste of time, so it’s important to set boundaries. Teens reported that they had posted on Instagram when they needed a distraction or break with responsibilities.

“Excessive use of social media is not usually the root of all ills for a teenager, but a way to deal with and disconnect from personal and academic stress that ends up doing more harm than good,” he says. Reed, 16. old man from Princeton, New Jersey. “Don’t blame a teen’s struggles on social media, but recognize that you can limit yourself to more physical and interactive activities that can make your child happier.”

Sometimes teens will only be on Instagram for a minute, and then leave hours later. Some teens admitted that they deleted all of their content or even the entire app temporarily because it drained their time and emotions. “I deleted it for about a year in the summer before the eighth,” says Milla. “It felt great not to always have that pressure in the back of my mind. Then I lowered it again the summer before high school.”

Instagram has launched a Take a Break tool that encourages users to relax once they have been away for a while. But it only counts the consecutive minutes spent on the app, the missing teens coming in and out of Instagram. Instagram has its flaws, but other social networking apps are worse Although all teens had complaints about Instagram, everyone said other apps are even more dangerous. “It’s definitely not as toxic as other parts of the Internet,” says Shannon.

Several interviewees mentioned their love for VSCO, a competing photo-sharing app that has no likes, comments, or followers. “It’s a lot more fun and carefree than Instagram,” says Maggie. But Instagram has hundreds of millions more users. That said, Instagram is still losing ground with teens. All interviewees reported spending exponentially more time on TikTok and Snapchat.

“TikTok is a lot more time consuming because I can lie in bed and entertain myself with it for hours,” says Alice, an 18-year-old in Providence, Rhode Island. “With Instagram, I can’t entertain myself for more than five or ten minutes!” Right now, some teens are just using Instagram as their messaging app. “I spend a lot of time talking to DMs with friends,” says Autumn, 18, in Poughkeepsie, New York. “Sometimes I think about taking a break, but it’s also the main way to keep in touch with people.”

Remember, Instagram is a corporation that puts its interests ahead of its users. Fronia, a 19-year-old from Houston, Texas, is very cynical — or perhaps expert — when it comes to Instagram. In addition to having a personal Instagram account, he has managed branded accounts for a local theater company and his university, and sees how algorithms make users addicted.

“When it comes to these apps, it’s always important to keep in mind that they’re big business,” he says. “I think teens can use Instagram in a healthy way to keep in touch with friends and have a good time. But keep in mind what’s going on behind the scenes. Instagram is trying to make money with you, and yes that means exploding the minds of young children, they will. ” These celebrities were honest with their kids about racism.

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