Saturday, October 16, 2021

Unpacking The Wall Street Journal Facebook Files

Social Media & Mental HealthThe Wall Street Journal published a series of articles about Facebook’s internal message boards revealing that the company is fully aware of the negative effects that Instagram has on teen mental health. Facebook has publicly focused on the positive side of social media and avoided sharing its research on the correlation between depression and what it terms “social comparison” that is affecting teens who spend time on the Instagram app. Up until now.

The article “Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show” by Georgia Wells, Jeff Horowitz, and Deepa Seetharam is an in-depth look at the ill effects of the social media platform that is tailored to the younger generation. About 22 million teens use Instagram daily. It creates a false narrative that stems from a curated look which can adversely affect teens’ idea of reality. “The tendency to share only the best moments, a pressure to look perfect and an addictive product can send teens spiraling toward eating disorders, an unhealthy sense of their own bodies and depression, March 2020 internal research states.” (WSJ 2021)

These are some startling statistics that have many parents concerned:

  • “Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.”
  • “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues.
  • “I felt like I had to fight to be considered pretty or even visible,” one teen said of her experience on Instagram… ‘For some people it might be tempting to dismiss this as teen girls being sad,’ said Dr. Twenge. But ‘we’re looking at clinical-level depression that requires treatment. We’re talking about self-harm that lands people in the ER.”
  • “Among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the desire to kill themselves to Instagram, one presentation showed.”

It can be scary to think about. It begs the question; how do parents protect their children? How can parents set boundaries while maintaining a healthy relationship with their children? What should parents know about Instagram, TikTok, Discord, etc.?

If this is you, you’re not alone. Safe Harbor Coronado will be tackling these questions and providing the tools you need to navigate parenting in the digital age at their next Parenting Workshop. Join Safe Harbor on October 18th in person at the Coronado Public Library Winn Room from 9:30 am-10:30 am for a free, hybrid, parenting workshop featuring guest speaker Jon Moffat. If you would like to watch live from home or receive the recording to watch on your own time, register online at under services and programs > upcoming workshops.

Safe Harbor provides low-cost counseling, youth and parenting programs, and community education. For more information go to, sign up for the parenting e-newsletter, and follow on social media @SafeHarborCoronado to make sure you never miss a Safe Harbor event.





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