Industry News

Why Social Media is a Special Kind of Hell for Teen Girls

October 6, 2021
Dame Magazine
Dr. Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher and alum Joanna Nolen provide insight around social media and its potential effect on eating disorders.

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The revelations that Facebook officials knew Instagram has worsened body image issues for a sizable portion of teen girls had the rare consequence of stopping the company’s increasingly dystopian ambitions in their tracks. Last week, the social media giant paused its planned launch of Instagram Kids, a Joe Camel-like gambit that, in Facebook’s words, would allow them to “leverage play dates” and other parts of the childhood experience to expose kids to targeted advertising and get them hooked on the apps.

It’s rare to see Facebook retreating on its business ambitions. But even Silicon Valley executives, who insulate their own kids from the products they push on the rest of the population, can’t ignore that social media is contributing to an unprecedented mental health crisis among kids and teens. The percent of teens reporting moderate or severe depression has risen substantially from just two years ago—from 25 percent to 38 percent, according to survey results published earlier this year by Common Sense, Hopelab, and the California Health Foundation, correlating with the time period when the pandemic forced kids to spend even more time in front of screens.

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