Facebook officials had internal research in March 2020 showing that Instagram – the social media platform most used by adolescents – is harmful to teen girls’ body image and well-being but swept those findings under the rug to continue conducting business as usual, according to a September 14, 2021, Wall Street Journal report.
Facebook’s policy of pursuing profits regardless of documented harm has sparked comparisons to Big Tobacco, which knew in the 1950s that its products were carcinogenic but publicly denied it into the 21st century. Those of us who study social media use in teens didn’t need a suppressed internal research study to know that Instagram can harm teens. Plenty of peer-reviewed research papers show the same thing.
Understanding the impact of social media on teens is important because almost all teens go online daily. A Pew Research Center poll shows that 89% of teens report they are online “almost constantly” or “several times a day.”