Is Instagram good for your mental health? Or Facebook or Twitter while we are talking about it #pshe #safeguarding #esafety # MH

On Wednesday  I saw a L6th student crying. I guessed she was just tired after the ball ( maybe slightly hunger over ) and sad to see the year above go. But no, she as crying because everyone looked so good on Instagram and she was a ” fat ugly mess”. Of course she wasn’t but no matter how much I told her this, she wasn’t going to budge. She showed me endless photos on Instagram of her friends and colleges at the ball, all looking absolutely fabulous. I explained that it was the filter etc and she quickly points out that these weren’t pictures that they had picked, these were pictures that their friends had put on.  ” how can they look this good, all the time and in pictures that others had picked for them.

That was a couple of days ago.  Now on my holiday I was reading ” health and fitness magazine ” and it has an article called reality check. It claimed that research had found that those who checked social media most frequently during the week had 2.6 times the risk of eating and body image concerns compared to those who logged on the least. Researchers say that people only tend to post images that present them positively, deleting the more accurate ones. But it you think about my pupil above are friends doing this as well.

I have written previously about pupils who post pictures of the food they eat to get positive feedback and encouragement to  eat very little but this is a selective group, a sub section that they join. Twitter / Facebook etc seems to be open to everyone to see so surely you only show the best side of yourself. Even now as a 40 ( +) year old, I only put pictures on Facebook that I think I look flattering  and my friends often ask before they post images.  This could be as a teacher you have to be careful about what you post.  I often say it’s like being famous but without the money. So with this in mind could  I as a role model buck this trend and post an unattractive photo of myself? To show everyone else that we are who we are.

Ok challenge accepted, I am now sitting on a pool side ( sorry I broke up two days ago, please don’t judge). I am in a bikini, can I take an honest photo of myself and post it ? …………….  Belly and all. No tan……….. Gosh this is hard. First two pictures looked horrendous, I then chickened out and took a picture of my legs with the pool in the background. Fondly known as the sausage photo. If I have been affected so badly and have lost confidence, image what our students are feeling. Why aren’t I proud of how I am . My belly is a product of the two children I have and I am proud of them. I am torn. I want to take a picture that I look reasonably ok but then I want to take a photo which shows that we all have bad days, this can’t be good for my mental health.

One thing I have discovered during my research is that it is really hard to take selfies, especially a good one. KIm K must spend hours. Ok enough stalling, ( although you would have seen the photo already so the build up doesn’t work)  here we go. No judgement or comments please, this is so nerve raking.  Am I really a grown intelligent difficult woman?

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Assistant Head ( DSL) at a boarding school. Interested in all PSHE and safeguarding topics.

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