Instagram is looking for ways to curb teens’ obsession with the perfect body

Instagram plans to encourage its users not only to watch content that promotes the archetype of the slim and athletic female body, after a damning article appeared in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) about the social network’s impact on the mental and physical health of teenage girls.

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“We are working more and more on comparisons (of his body to others’ body, editor’s note) and negative body image,” the Facebook app, which is popular with young people, said Tuesday.

The platform says it is considering ways to respond “when we see that people populate certain types of images,” in a statement released in response to an investigation by the US Economic Daily.

According to the WSJ, the network is aware of the problem through its own research, but it underestimates its impact on the psychology of the tens of millions of young people who go online every day.

According to the article, an Instagram slide, broadcast during an internal meeting in 2019, stated, “We’re worsening his relationship with his body to one in three teens.”

Another said summarizing a study of girls with this type of problem: “Teenagers accuse Instagram of increasing levels of anxiety and depression.”

“The article focuses on the results of limited studies and puts them in a bad light,” replied Karina Newton, director of public regulations at Instagram. But this research shows “our commitment to understanding these complex topics.”

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It also points out that social networks are neither good nor bad in themselves, that their impact varies from day to day, and that they inevitably contain the social problems that exist in real life.

She hopes a potential system of incentives to view content that “inspires and uplifts ‘young users'” will help “change that part of Instagram culture that revolves around appearance”.

Many authorities and associations have been warning for years about the dangers to young people through Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, etc.

In a letter sent last May to Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, prosecutors in 44 US states argued, “Research shows a relationship between social networking use and increased stress and suicidal behavior among young people.”

They cited studies showing the harms of constant comparison with peers, such as eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia), and asked the president to drop the plan to create an Instagram version for those under 13.

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