TikTok shares new mental health resources as Instagram faces backlash against its influence on teens

The potential negative impacts of social media on mental health are not new. Study after study, time spent on these platforms can disrupt sleep and expose teens to bullying and unrealistic views of other people’s lives. Links have been observed between high levels of social media use and symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Some social media platforms have shown they are aware of their influence on mental health by posting updates to protect users and improve their online experience.

The popular video-sharing app TikTok launched at least half a dozen initiatives this year alone to boost security and privacy, mostly for teenage users. Its latest initiative, launched on September 14, aims to promote new resources to support community mental health and wellness on its app.

“While we do not allow content that promotes, glorifies, or normalizes suicide, self-harm or eating disorders, we support those who choose to share their experiences to raise awareness, to help others who may be in. difficulty and find support within our community, ”Tara Wadhwa, policy director of TikTok US, said in a statement announcing the additional resources to support wellness.

Related: Facebook faces bipartisan Senate probe after company was revealed to be aware of Instagram damage to young users

The app expands its resources related to eating disorders, for example. Earlier this year, TikTok began offering guides and tools in search results when a user searched for terms related to eating disorders. TikTok also previously introduced permanent PSAs for certain hashtags, like the #whatieatinaday tag, which promote safety and awareness. Now, the app will also have an eating disorder safety center guide for teens, caregivers and educators. TikTok has collaborated with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the National Eating Disorder Information Center, the Butterfly Foundation and Bodywhys on its guide to eating disorders.

The platform is also expanding its research interventions. When a user searches for terms related to suicide, for example, they are directed to local support resources such as the Crisis Text Line hotline. Users will also be able to choose to watch videos in the search results of the creators of TikTok sharing their own experiences with mental health, providing information on where to find help, and giving advice on how to talk to loved ones.

The app also bolsters its reviews on search results, including its sensitive content warning label.

“We are proud that our platform has become a place where people can share their personal experiences in mental wellness, find community and support each other, and we take our responsibility to make TikTok a very serious one. safe space for those important conversations, ”TikTok said in its release.

TikTok’s announcement comes as social media brands come under increasing scrutiny for their negative effects on people’s mental health.

A recent Wall Street Journal report reveals that Facebook FB,
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is aware that its photo-sharing platform, Instagram, causes mental disorders in people, especially teenage girls.

“Thirty-two percent of teenage girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” an Instagram internal search said. “Teens blame Instagram for increasing rates of anxiety and depression. ”

Another slide claimed that this increase in anxiety and depression among users was “consistent across groups,” according to the WSJ.

Related: 44 attorneys general urge Facebook to ditch Instagram plans for kids

To combat these issues, Instagram created a ‘wellness’ team in 2018 that came up with ideas such as hiding similar accounts and creating the ability to flag posts for those who may be suffering from mental illness and potentially self-harm.

Instagram has worked with organizations such as the National Eating Disorders Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in recent years to design these new features – the company also has a page dedicated to related useful information on its Help Center.

Constant scrolling on social media apps, especially news-rich ones like Twitter TWTR,
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can have a negative impact on someone’s mental health, according to Mesfin Bekalu, a researcher at the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness at Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health. It warns users against catastrophic scrolling, in which excessive time is spent on the screen absorbed by negative information.

“Doom-scrolling can have the same long-term effects on mental health, unless we conduct interventions that address user behaviors and guide the design of social media platforms in ways that improve mental health and goodness. -be, ”she said.

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Like Instagram, Twitter also has a feature to report users threatening any type of violence directly in its app, and includes a page dedicated to providing useful information on abuse, self-harm and other types of violence. .

Earlier this month, Twitter launched “Safe Mode” which uses artificial intelligence to automatically block aggressive or hateful users.

Representatives from Facebook and Twitter were not immediately available for comment on this story.

The shares of many social media companies have surged in the past year. Over the past 12 months, Facebook has grown over 46%, Twitter has grown 58%, and Snap Inc. SNAP,
-1.55%
is up 198%, compared to a 33% gain for the S&P 500 over the same period.

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