A survey by The Royal Society for Public Health has dubbed Instagram as the worst social network when it comes to its impact on mental health of youth.
The poll asked 1,479 people aged 14-24 to score popular apps on issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, bullying and body image.
Instagram said keeping the platform a safe and supportive place for young people was a top priority.
Mental health charities urged companies to act to increase users’ safety.
Respondents were asked to score how each of the social media platforms they use impact upon issues such as anxiety, loneliness and community building.
Participants were asked to score each platform on 14 health and well-being issues.
Based on these ratings, YouTube was considered to have the most positive impact on mental health, followed by Twitter and then Facebook.
Snapchat and Instagram were given the lowest scores overall in the survey.
The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) report said: “The platforms that are supposed to help young people connect with each other may actually be fuelling a mental health crisis.”
Recommendations included introducing pop-ups on sites such as Twitter and Facebook warning users about heavy usage – which the RSPH said was supported by seven in 10 people surveyed – and social media platforms discreetly signposting help to those potentially suffering from mental health issues.
The RSPH report says that “social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis” in young people.
However, it can also be used as a tool for good, the report said. Instagram, for example, was found to have a positive effect on self-expression and self-identity.
About 90% of young people use social media – more than any other age group – so they are particularly vulnerable to its effects, although it is not clear what these are on current evidence.