The student news site of Brookline High School

The impacts

December 4, 2021

Research shows that misleading representations of people on social media can leave people, specifically teenage girls, struggling with their mental health. A study conducted by Facebook said that one out of five teenagers in the US and UK say that Instagram makes them feel worse about themselves. According to Polaris Teen Center, about 70 percent of young women aged 10 to 18 say photographs of models and celebrities in social media have motivated them to reach an “ideal” body type. This pressure that teenagers have for their bodies to look a certain way is linked to eating disorders, and 90 percent of people with anorexia are female.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, conducted studies on the algorithm that the apps use to present content to their users. In the algorithm used, once a person types something into their search bar, their screen will instantly be flooded with all things related to that topic.

The internal study said that on Instagram, people only share their best moments, and for someone who is already suffering, seeing this along with the pressure to only look your best on social media can give them an unhealthy idea of their bodies.

For students like senior Sasha Kalvert, not enough people acknowledge the physical toll of mental illnesses.

“When you do not eat enough, you literally can not think clearly. You do not have enough energy to function as a person. You have to look at what the long-term effects of eating disorders are, which is a population of women that are sedated by this horrible, horrible illness that has been pushed upon them. Nobody talks about this, but did you know that anorexia is the most deadly mental illness?” Kalvert said.

Senior Nina Bakum said Instagram and other social media platforms also spread toxic messages regarding diet culture.

“Seeing these things on Instagram, TikTok, these idealized bodies and what they are supposed to look like can make someone think that their body is not supposed to look the way that it does. That gets into the stuff of diet culture and all these unhealthy diets that make people think they need to do something to get their body to look the way that these Instagram models look when that’s not possible,” Bakum said.

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