US lawmakers concerned about negative impact Instagram has on teens’ mental health

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WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Some U.S. lawmakers are concerned about the negative impact Instagram is having on teens’ mental health.

“Leaders of Facebook knew that Instagram was adversely affecting the mental health of young users, especially our young girls,” Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.).

According to a Wall Street Journal report, researchers found that 32% of teen girls who felt bad about their bodies said Instagram made them feel worse. This data was posted to Facebook’s internal message boards.

“I think that they should be focusing 100% on making their service safe for the tens of millions of young users who are already on them,” Trahan said.

Trahan and other lawmakers sent a letter to Facebook demanding answers and calling for the company to stop the development of Instagram for kids.

“The fact that they had been sounding that alarm inside the company for years, but leaders at the highest levels chose to do nothing, is really a damning indictment of Facebook’s priorities, which namely puts profits over people,” Trahan said.

Psychologists are concerned about the lasting damage that may come from using social media at a young age.

“We, more than anything else, have to help educate our teens about the way these platforms are designed,” Dr. Wendy Dickinson said on NewsNation’s On Balance with Leland Vittert. “They’re designed to be addictive. Every time something refreshes, or you get a another like, you get a hit of dopamine, which causes you to come back.”

Other lawmakers like Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) says she will take additional steps to look into Facebook’s knowledge of negative effects, saying in a statement that Facebook “covered up clear evidence of significant harm.”

“It’s clear that there’s far more to this than what’s been reported so far and if Facebook won’t be a good partner to get the full picture, we have an obligation to use the full power of the United States Congress to get it ourselves,” Trahan said.

Blackburn also said they are in touch with a Facebook whistleblower and will use every resource available to investigate the tech giant.

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