It is always suspected that social media leaves pretty negative effect on teenagers’ mental health and now a study confirms that, with Instagram and Snapchat being the worst culprits.

The study – Status of Mind – published today, was conducted by researchers at the Royal Society for Public Health and Young Health Movement in the UK. 1,479 British youths aging between 14-24 were surveyed by researchers asking them how they felt the different social media networks effected their mental health. They also took in several factors such as body image, sleep deprivation, self-identity and bullying.

Based on the ratings the people gave, the five most popular platforms were given a net average score which were used to establish the league table rankings:

YouTube (most positive)
Instagram (most negative)

While Instagram and Snapchat, stood out as they had terrible scores for body image, bullying, and anxiety – Twitter and Facebook weren’t much better, though. YouTube is the only rated positive network that inspires more positive feelings than negative ones.

Snapchat and Instagram being scored as the worst could be because these are image-based apps, meaning for users, it isn’t easy to avoid visual comparisons. The researchers suggested this was likely to bring up anxiety in fellow users:

“Seeing friends constantly on holiday or enjoying nights out can make young people feel like they are missing out while others enjoy life. These feelings can promote a ‘compare and despair’ attitude in young people. Individuals may view heavily photo-shopped, edited or staged photographs and videos and compare them to their seemingly mundane lives.”

The researchers also included some recommendations:

Introduction of a pop-up heavy usage warning on social media – seven in 10 (71%) young people surveyed supported this recommendation.

Social media platforms to identify users who could be suffering from mental health problems by their posts, and discretely signpost to support – four in five young people supported this.

Social media platforms to highlight when photos of people have been digitally manipulated – more than two-thirds (68%) of young people support.

Link to the full report: Instagram ranked worst for young people’s mental health