Social media has been a staple of society for over a decade now, and there’s no sign of slowing. Instagram remains one of the top platforms, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Why are there so many people on Instagram these days?
The increase in smartphone use on a global scale is one of the main reasons. Because there are 5.29 billion unique mobile users in the world today (GSMA Intelligence), more and more people are accessing social media networks with greater frequency.
Not only that, the number of smartphones being used annually is increasing at a rate of 5.6 percent YOY, and almost 1 million new smartphones are entering mobile usage every day. Since last year, social media user count, in general, has increased more than 13%, which turns out to be over 500 million users in only a year’s time.
With Instagram reach at an all-time high, it’s not surprising that people have taken to the platform to connect with friends and family, discover new brands, be entertained by captivating photos and videos, and more.
The nature of social media is positive; people are social by nature and always seek connection with others. The opportunities that businesses have gained from social media are also incredible, allowing for more effective marketing campaigns and the potential to reach a global target audience.
However, as Instagram and smartphone usage continues to increase, mental health conditions are also on the rise. While this isn’t necessarily the root cause, research suggests that social media use plays a role in the development of mental health issues.
In this post, we’re going to take a look at many different Instagram and mental health statistics to see just how detrimental the platform could be for your health, what are the positives, and how to find a balance for your personal life or your brand/business.
Let’s check out some quick stats.
At-a-Glance Instagram and Mental Health Statistics
Here are some of the most pertinent Instagram and mental health statistics to begin:
- 71% of 18-24-year-olds use Instagram, and 72% of 13-17-year-olds use the platform as well.
- 25% of teens using social media said that it had a negative effect on them, with 31% claiming it has a positive effect.
- Some of the most discouraging issues on Instagram include sleep quality, body image, fear of missing out (FOMO), and bullying.
- Research suggests social media users of 7 or more platforms had 3x the risk for anxiety and depression.
- More than 1 in 3 adults (38%) consider social media to be harmful.
- 73% of millennials agree that social media causes loneliness and isolation.
- A UK survey, #StatusOfMind, showed Instagram voted the most negative in terms of health and well-being.
- 5%-10% of Americans could meet criteria that determines a social media addiction.
- Facebook internally discussed the fact that 32% of teen girls feel worse about their bodies when using Instagram.
While this isn’t an overwhelmingly positive snapshot of Instagram and mental health, there were some clear positives identified to using the platform. Some of the main benefits of using Instagram via Pew Research include:
- Connecting with friends and family (40%)
- Easier to find news and information (16%)
- Meeting others with the same interests (15%)
- Keeps you entertained/upbeat (9%)
- Self-expression (7%)
- Getting support from others (5%)
- Learning new things (4%)
- Other (6%)
The world seems to be divided on whether or not Instagram has a positive or negative effect on mental health based on statistics. One thing that all Instagram users should remember, especially for brands and businesses, is that there are issues with Instagram and mental health and what we post on the platform matters.
Using mindfulness when posting, showing representation and acceptance, and promoting healthy conversations about mental health is vital to ensure that Instagram is a community of support and positivity in lieu of something that causes anxiety and depression.
Brands and businesses are ultimately becoming more aware of this; Lush Cosmetics is a prime example. On November 26th, 2021, all of Lush’s social media accounts, including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat were taken completely offline by the Chief Digital Officer, Jack Constantine.
The company cites the reason being concerns about mental health effects of social media. Lush is aware of the significant mental health impacts of platforms like Instagram on body image, and since the products promote self-care, they felt a social responsibility to remove their networks, even if it means sacrificing profits.
While we’re not suggesting by any means that your brand or business needs to “quit” Instagram, it’s important to note that the conversation is being had, and it’s valuable as a business to show your support and social responsibility. This can even lead to a better reputation and a more loyal follower base.
Let’s take a look at some more in-depth Instagram and mental health statistics, including usage, Instagram addiction, effects on children and young adults, as well as some accounts that are leading the charge in supporting mental health on Instagram.
Who Uses Instagram?
Before we get into more detailed Instagram and mental health statistics, we have to understand who is using Instagram to begin with. Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users that access the Instagram app across the globe. Daily, the app sees 500 million users access the platform.
Instagram stories have proven to be an incredibly successful feature of Instagram, smashing Snapchat and engaging over 500 million people every day.
Instagram’s largest user base is in India, with 201 million active users as of October 2021. This is followed by the US (157.1m), Brazil (114.9m) and Indonesia (94.2m).
Considering the global distribution of age on Instagram, we can observe the following data per Statista:
- 25-34 years old: 31.2%
- 18-24 years old: 31%
- 35-44 years old: 15.9%
- 13-17 years old: 8%
- 45-54 years old: 7.9%
- 55-64 years old: 3.9%
- 65+ years old: 2.2%
That means the largest groups range from 18-34 years old on Instagram, with roughly 62.2% of the total user base as of October 2021. Because over two-thirds of Instagram’s audience is under 34, this makes the platform incredibly attractive to marketers.
It also means that many Instagram users are still susceptible to mental health issues related to the platform’s constant insistence on perfection and excess. Let’s have a look at some general Instagram and mental health statistics.
Instagram Statistics Mental Health Edition
There have been growing mental health concerns around social media use in general, with major depression increasing in young people by 63% from 2009 – 2017 in adults aged 18-25.
In addition, young adults reported having more suicidal thoughts from 2008 – 2017 and psychological distress grew 71% in the same period.
These Instagram and mental health statistics is alarming, but again, correlation is not causation. There has been a surge in social media and smartphone use during that period, but how much of this phenomenon is related to Instagram and social media use is still heavily debated.
One of the most interesting studies done that provides Instagram and mental health statistics comes from the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health in their #StatusOfMind report, surveying young people about their social media perceptions.
Based on these results, Instagram was dead last, showing that it was considered to house the most potential for generating mental health issues after social media use. Snapchat wasn’t hfar behind.
The survey asked participants how they would rate Instagram and other social networks about the following 14 health and wellbeing issues:
- Awareness and understanding of other people’s health experiences.
- Access to expert health information you know you can trust
- Emotional support
- Body image
- Real world relationships
- Community building
- Fear of missing out (FOMO)
Some of the takeaways from this report include various ways to help curb the development of mental health strains after using Instagram and other platforms. One method is to implement a warning of heavy social media usage, which was supported by 71% of participants.
Another recommendation, which is also heavily discussed by other users of Instagram all around the globe, is the obligation to alert users when photos of people have been manipulated or altered digitally. This was supported by 68% of young people.
Case24 conducted a study in the UK that also gaged how many people edit or alter their photos before uploading, and on average 71% of people edit their selfies. Only 29% of people said they would post a photo without first editing some element of their appearance.
This clearly shows that much of what we see on Instagram these days is fairly altered. Accounts like @danaemercer and @hayleymadiganfitness aim to show exactly how Instagram “perfection” can be edited and faked, which helps to shine light on this issue.
In addition, according to Pew Research, US teens have experienced quite a bit of negativity through Instagram, including:
- Any type of cyberbullying listed below (59%)
- Offensive name-calling (42%)
- Spreading of false rumors (32%)
- Receiving explicit images they didn’t ask for (25%)
- Constant asking of where they are, what they’re doing, who they’re with, by someone besides a parent (21%)
- Physical threats (16%)
- Having explicit images of them shared without their consent (7%)
That said, there are a number of positive associations related to Instagram and mental health statistics as well.
According to Business for Instagram, 90% of people on Instagram follow a business based on surveys. Of those participants, 2 in 3 people agree that Instagram allows for interactions with brands, and 50% are more interested in a brand after they see an Instagram ad.
This shows that Instagram has positively impacted the way that we interact with brands and build relationships with them. Offering this level of convenience and contact is very important and has added an ease and convenience to the lives of Instagram users.
Not only that, 31% of respondents in Pew Research agreed that social media has a positive effect, and 45% said that it has neither a positive nor negative effect.
Also, the top Instagram hashtag is #love, showing that people do still have a tendency to look for warmth and human connection through social sharing.
So far we’ve discussed many elements about the effects of Instagram on mental health, but there’s another concern related to Instagram and mental health statistics: addiction. It’s wholly possible to become addicted to social media, and there’s one main reason why.
According to Addiction Center, people talk about themselves 30-40% of the time when having a person in real life. It’s estimated in social media that the percentage shoots up to a surprising 80%.
Because people are sharing things about their own life, when they receive a notification such as a mention, like, or comment, dopamine is released from the brain, causing a sensation of pleasure.
Social media can easily provide tons of this kind of affirmation with fairly minimal effort, from anywhere around the globe. This dopamine release and idea of “reward” is what has perpetuated social media addiction.
Neuroscientists have even gone so far as to compare social media interaction with “a syringe of dopamine being injected straight into the system.”
Psychologists estimate that between 5%-10% of Americans could meet the criteria for social media addiction, which isn’t surprising considering that most social media network user bases have the highest concentration and penetration of US users.
The ironic part of this whole Instagram addiction is that many research studies and statistics already mentioned above show that there is a correlation between lower self-esteem and negative mental health. Social pressures, comparison, and “fake reality” cause these feelings.
A Harvard University study shows that using social media, including Instagram, in a chronic way can go so far as to negatively affect real-life relationships, academic achievement, as well as emotional wellbeing.
Mental-Health Conscious Instagram Accounts
While the Instagram and mental health statistics are not optimistic on the whole, there’s still good news for your brand or business. Many users are excited to connect with brands and businesses on Instagram, and if you are able to get your content out there and reach your target audience, you can establish a better Instagram presence.
Not only that, the current landscape of Instagram allows brands and businesses to demonstrate social responsibility and empower their audience base to destigmatize mental health and focus on self-care.
There are plenty of accounts already doing this. One example is Old Navy. There’s no denying that there is tons of social pressure for people to look a certain way or have a certain body type, but clothing brands like Old Navy are doing their part to combat this.
They offer clothing selections for all sizes and often use great diversity in their marketing material. They even created a hashtag campaign, #BODequality, to promote body positivity and acceptance.
Campaigns like this are very important and can help you to connect with your audience and also humanize your brand, showing that you care about your clients and making Instagram a better place for all users.
H&M also does branded hashtag campaigns, like #HMxME, and they frequently feature real users in their feeds, showing more realistic photos of how their clothes are worn and used in the real world.
Notably, Rihanna’s lingerie brand, Savage x Fenty, has made waves for their inclusivity in not only products but also in those that are representing the brand. From Instagram to fashion shows, Rihanna has made it a goal to represent a wide range of people and finds it very important.
There are also many different accounts that focus on the staged and falsified nature of Instagram, which aligns with the effort to curb some of the more disturbing Instagram and mental health statistics.
@danaemercer has 2.4 million followers on the platform and is known for exposing popular “influencer” techniques to help people see that social media isn’t as real as people would have you believe.
She also posts messages that inspire people to live their life and accept themselves. Recently, she discussed having a miscarriage right after getting married. She keeps things real and has a high follower count alongside a strong engagement rate.
In addition, there are accounts that focus on mental health specifically, including @anxiety_wellbeing, @tobemagnetic, @mentalhealth, and a variety of others that draw attention to mental health and also provide empowering messages to their followers.
Another favorite account that shows the reality behind Instagram influencers is @influencersinthewild. It gives user-submitted behind-the-scenes photos and videos from real life showing content creators doing their thing.
It just goes to remind everyone that what we see on Instagram would often look totally bizarre or unrealistic in the real world, and that perhaps we shouldn’t compare ourselves or base our self worth on what we see on Instagram.
@influencersinthewild has raked in 4.5 million Instagram followers.
Taking part in a more “real” Instagram image for your brand can show that you are sensitive to the mental health concerns that the platform has presented and that your brand or business takes social responsibility and cares about your clients/followers/fans.
How Do Instagram Mental Health Stats Affect Your Marketing Campaign?
When all is said and done, Instagram and mental health statistics show that there are some reasons for concern in social media use. Aside from that, Instagram shows no sign of slowing down in terms of features for brands and businesses.
Offering shoppable posts, clickable links in all Instagram stories, Instagram live shopping, and more, there are plenty of opportunities for brands and businesses to take advantage of successful marketing campaigns on Instagram.
Instagram is set to bring in an estimated $26.46 billion in 2021 in ad revenue alone, and by 2023, it’s expected to hit $39.7 billion. It’s clear that businesses are not shying away from using social media for campaigns.
Influencer marketing is also incredibly popular on Instagram, with 94% of marketers claiming that they are successful in their campaigns and 49% of customers looking to influencers for advice. The strength of the relationships built between influencers and their followers is massive.
Instagram is the chosen platform for influencer marketing, with 78% of marketers selecting it as the most effective network.
Based on Instagram mental health stats, these mental health concerns will not have much of an impact on your marketing campaign, especially if you continue to create content that is upstanding, demonstrates social responsibility, and cares for the community around you.
Final Thoughts: Is Instagram Bad for Mental Health?
After taking a deep dive into Instagram and mental health statistics, it’s apparent that mental health and social media have a bit of a controversial connection. With the visual nature of Instagram, it’s easy to see how there could be a negative effect on the mental health of users based on the idea of social pressures and the “do it for the ‘gram” mentality.
That said, there are benefits to using Instagram as well, especially for discovering content that is beneficial to you, connecting with others, and online shopping. Instagram likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so finding responsible ways to manage social media use is vital for maintaining a healthy mindset.
Managing Instagram use can be a bit of a delicate balance, so being mindful of the type of content we’re consuming, practicing self-care and self-love, as well as having a sense of social responsibility can combat the negative effects of Instagram on mental health.