Is Instagram Becoming Dangerous to Mental Health?
(Scarletts Instagram can be found here)
Is Instagram Becoming Dangerous to Mental Health?
So we have been given the opportunity to discuss the reality of Instagram becoming dangerous to mental health. Another week, another blogger drama. I’m sure by now you have all seen THAT Scarlett London Instagram post. After a tweet calling it unrealistic went viral, Scarlett received quite a bit of backlash regarding the unrealistic expectations set in her content. Instead of discussing this like actual humans beings, many people have taken to more or less bullying Scarlett. While there are a number of aspects I do feel need discussion when it comes to Instagram vs reality, I seriously think this could have been done more constructively. Instagram becoming dangerous to mental health is a completely different conversation to the one about influencer marketing. Sorry, abusing a hard-working blogger just because you don’t like the situation isn’t exactly going to help, is it?
Insagram Becoming Dangerous to Mental Health – setting unrealistic expectations for children
More than the way people chose to express their views, this is the one argument that really got me going during the whole thing. Even teachers, yes ACTUAL teachers have waded in and told Scarlett what she is doing in damaging to children. Fair enough, had she set this up as a “real” post I could understand their argument, but people are forgetting that SHE DISCLOSED THIS POST AS AN AD. In short, this influencer did everything that she was supposed to. She didn’t pretend it was a real morning, she didn’t pretend she was just caught candidly like this. She pointed in every way she needed to as per the ASA guidelines that this was sponsored content, created specifically for the brand. If your children are too young to understand the concept of advertising, then they shouldn’t be on Instagram.
If you are a parent, and you let your kids on social media, have no idea what they are doing on there, and just put them in front of it for a quiet life because all their friends have it, then I’m sorry, I don’t see that as good parenting. My friends are incredible parents, and if I showed that post to my friends ten year old and said “do you think this is real” she would say “no, of course not”. Just like kids understand the concept of adverts on TV, they need to know how advertising works on social media so that they can be aware of it. Social media is being blamed for a lot of mental health problems in children, and while I do get that, I still think social media should be discussed properly with the parents before they get it. At the age of 30, my Mum still asks me about certain things I post on social media now and if I need to talk. This is an ongoing discussion. You cannot just tell you kids not to accept requests from strangers then bury your head in the sand when it comes to the conversation around social media.
What about the implications for mental health?
Before anyone accuses me of not knowing what I talk about, I suffer from anxiety and depression (although not currently medicated as giving up alcohol helped me to be able to survive without citalopram). Despite what I have just said above, I do think social media, in general, can be damaging to mental health. No, I don’t think Instagram and Facebook should be blamed for bad parenting, but I do think sometimes people with mental health issues are more susceptible to forgetting that people only show their best lives. Be honest, how many times have you looked and thought “God, she’s always on holiday” or “Wow they must be loaded”. No one wants to see that you have sat in on a Friday night with your cat, so you wouldn’t post it. It’s easy to forget that we choose what people do and don’t see online and therefore people can very easily slide into thinking that everyone has more fun and interesting lives than them. One of the most useful examples of this is those annoying network marketer people. They often have pictures of luxurious holidays and fast cars and all of the stuff you could get too if you join their team and pay a huge fee only to realise you have joined a pyramid scheme and will make nothing (if this offends you, you obviously are a network marketer so I won’t be offended with an unfollow).
What can I do if I Think Instagram is Making my Mental Health bad?
So with all the furore (honestly, how good a word is furore though?), at least openly talking about mental health and social media has been put on the table. It’s a shame it comes out of bullying (and yes, some of the reactions to Scarlett were nothing more than bullying, and in the most case OLDER ADULTS BULLYING A YOUNGER ADULT), but it is an important talking point, and something I have been wanting to write about for ages. It’s made me realise a lot about myself. What I would and wouldn’t do as a parent. How I literally WOULDN’T want to be famous even though my whole life I have thought I wanted to. I even echoed the sentiments of a blogger who I think is the biggest helmet ever (she tried to call me out for following/unfollowing which was hilarious, because I saw one tweet was funny, followed her, realised that I could not be bothered with how obnoxious she was, and unfollowed. She legitimately couldn’t comprehend that I thought she was a genuine idiot 24 hours after following her.) But good has come. We’re talking about it. The more we talk about mental health, the more we can fight against the stigma around it. Although I don’t agree with how Scarlett London has been treated, I completely agree that we need to have a conversation about social media and mental health.
What Should I do if Social Media is Affecting my Mental Health?
I think all of us would admit that spending hours scrolling through newsfeeds showing girls with perfect figures makes us feel a bit inadequate, but what should you do if you feel it is becoming a real problem?
- Get help
If you haven’t ever suffered from a mental health issue or a mental illness, but you feel like you might be starting to suffer, seek help immediately. The first step is usually your Doctor, but there are loads of charities that are willing to help also and advise you what to do next. Samaritans have a helpline you can call if you need a chat, and Mind also has some good advice if you are not sure where to turn.
- Set yourself a cut off time
My worst time for pointlessly scrolling social media is of an evening just before I go to sleep. No matter how much I need an early night I’ll get my phone out and before I know it I am looking 32 weeks into the Instagram of someone I went to school with sisters mate. If you feel like social media is taking over a bit, set yourself a cut off time and turn your phone off.
- Do things that do not involve screen time
Trying to find more things that you can do that d not involve you getting bored and turning to Instagram is a really effective way to stop yourself from getting in too deep with social media. Treat yourself to a book you have wanted for a while or go for a walk. I hate to say this but even going to the gym is a welcome distraction (I know, I’m sorry).
- Delete the apps
I regularly delete Instagram and Facebook for a mini 24-hour break. I have to admit I am quite obsessed with Twitter, so I haven’t quite been strong enough to delete that for 24 hours yet. Just make sure you let your loved ones know. I am regularly in receipt of texts from my friends that go along the lines of “are you ok? you haven’t Snapchatted today?”.
For anyone saying she “hasn’t received any hate”, I have collated a few of the tweets that this influencer has had to deal with for doing her job, and doing it correctly.
*Due to the sensitive nature of this post, I have decided not to embed advertising in the actual content, however, you may see ads that are coded into the layout of the page in the sidebar and header.