About 1.96 billion people worldwide, and an estimated 78% of all Americans, 1have at least one social media account. For many individuals, social media is an essential part of our everyday life. Often seen as an extension of ourselves, people use these sites to express various thoughts and emotions to friends, followers, and anyone within the online world.
But did you know that an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression worldwide 2 ? This makes up almost 18% of all social media users. With this percentage it is not as uncommon to see someone create a post online that relates to their mental illness.
Instagram recently recognized that there was a problem with many users viewing their app as an unsafe space. With the extreme popularity of social media, it comes as no surprise that Instagram and all other social media sites can cause anxiety, jealousy, pressure, and even depression.
As a result of this, Instagram noticed a trend of users frequently creating a post only to delete it later. As written in the Wall Street Journal 3:
“The pressure to attract “likes” on Instagram is so great that teens often delete photos that don’t fare well. One internal survey showed some teens delete about half the photos in their Instagram feeds, according to a person familiar with the data. Mr. Systrom declined to confirm the figure, but said “deletions are fairly high” among Instagram users when photos don’t get enough likes or teens no longer feel the photos reflect their lives.”
This undeniable trend of user activity inspired Instagram to create Instagram Stories. Although, many considered this to be a copy off of Snapchat, Instagram begs to differ. It is said that Stories were created for users to share pictures without feeling insecure about the popularity of the post. 4
To continue in their efforts of making Instagram a safe space for all users, Instagram released a new feature that helps users that show signs of a mental illness. This feature allows users to anonymously flag a photo if they think someone is in need of some help. Instagram will then send a message to the user in need offering different options to get help
Although some may think this is invasive, Instagram is working with organizations including the National Eating Disorder Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 5 to create appropriate messages that will help those in need.
As if this wasn’t enough of a step in the right direction, Instagram has also banned searches involving self-harm hashtags. When a user tries to search such topics, support options appear to help the user if needed.
With social media being such a strong presence in our everyday lives, it is impressive that these platforms are taking a stand and helping users in need. By creating these new features, Instagram is making a step in the right direction, providing a space for all users to feel comfortable.
1Percentage of US Population with a Social Network Profile
2Percentage of US Population with a Social Network Profile
3Instagram Unveils Instagram Stories
4Brands Kind Like Teenagers Instagram Copied Snapchat
5 Instagram’s New Feature Mental Health