Facebook has been caught stealing a page from the tobacco industry’s playbook: Deny your product is harmful, even as your own researchers prove that it is. And just as a wealth of public health evidence refuted tobacco industry PR, years of research into social media use has documented harmful psychological effects.

Much of that harm falls on adolescents, particularly girls. Psychologist Christia Spears Brown explains why Instagram is particularly problematic and details two ways the social media platform hits teens where they’re vulnerable: social standing and body image. She also offers advice for parents on how to help their teens avoid the pitfalls of Instagram.

In the meantime, Mark Zuckerberg is left to ponder the possibility that history will label him the digital equivalent of a tobacco company CEO.

Also today:

Eric Smalley

Science + Technology Editor

Instagram’s emphasis on filtered photos of bodies harms girls’ self-image. Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Facebook has known for a year and a half that Instagram is bad for teens despite claiming otherwise – here are the harms researchers have been documenting for years

Christia Spears Brown, University of Kentucky

There is ample research about how harmful Instagram is for teen girls, especially around body image. It turns out Facebook’s own research confirms it.


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