And the worst social media app for mental health is…

And the worst social media app for mental health is…

In a study of social networking sites’ effects on young people’s mental health, Instagram was found to have the most negative consequences, while YouTube was seen as the most positive.

Earlier this year, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) surveyed about 1,500 individuals across the United Kingdom aged 14-24, asking them to score social media in terms of the impact they have on issues of health and well-being. These issues included emotional support, anxiety, self-expression, body image, fear of missing out and more.

The results ranked YouTube as the most positive followed by Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and, finally, Instagram.

“It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and well-being,” said Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of the RSPH. “Both platforms are very image-focused, and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”

While the RSPH tries to make future policy changes as a result of the study, there are things you can do to support young people on social media now.

“I would caution parents to limit access to electronic media and to monitor usage,” says Dr. Rhoda Gottfried, adolescent psychiatrist with Advocate Medical Group in Bloomington, Ill. “Monitoring seems cliché, but I think many parents are not monitoring what is happening in the online life of their children. It is just as important as knowing whose house they are at for a sleepover.”

“Social media is not necessarily a bad thing,” says Dr. David Milligan, pediatrician with Advocate Children’s Medical Group and Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “However, it is important for parents to educate their children on the good and bad aspects of social media and to monitor their usage. Discuss healthy body image with your child(ren). Also be sure to let your child(ren) know that things shared on social media can be accessed by almost anyone.”

Related Posts



  1. I don’t know if the survey was badly done or if this article is just badly written, but it doesn’t sound like Instagram was actually “bad” for mental health, just not as “good” as YouTube, etc. In fact, we don’t know that YouTube is necessarily “good’, just better than Instagram. You need to present a little more detail here.

  2. Lynn Hutley

    You can learn more about the study by going to the Royal Society for Public Health’s website at the following link:

About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.