It shouldn't be a surprise, nor should it have taken this long to investigate, but a group of attorneys from at least eight states want to know how high usage of the Instagram app affects teens--especially teen girls.

Attorneys General from at least eight states recently launched an investigation into Instagram policies, as they want to determine how the app attracts teens to use and maintain presence on its platform.

(Yes, apparently a group needs to investigate why teens are a hot mess of insecurity and vanity all rolled up into hormones, and why an app that plays into that and facilitates that is intriguing.)

In all seriousness, though, the investigation comes as parents and critics alike are concerned about the negative impact Instagram can have on the health of teens--particularly young girls who are insecure as it is. Recent revelations about the platform and its sister, Facebook, by whistleblower Frances Haugen add to the concern that Instagram can negatively impact teen mental health.

A bipartisan group of attorneys general from at least eight states have launched an investigation into Instagram to determine how the social media app attracts teens to use and stay on its platform.
The investigation follows an outcry from critics and parents as well as a revelation by whistleblower Frances Haugen that the company's own internal research found that Instagram can negatively impact the mental health of teens.

The investigation is focused on potential harm of extensive engagement on Instagram and whether Instagram's parent company (Meta, formerly Facebook) violated any consumer protection laws in trying to keep tweens and young adults on their platform longer.

In an interview with Today Parents, California attorney general Rob Bonta said that the investigation team wanted to know if Instagram sought to bring children and young adults back when they left the platform, and if so, how they did so.

Meta's response to the investigation is that there is a deep misunderstanding of facts, and they 'support' young users as industry leaders. They used their 'take a break' feature as something used to actually discourage long stretches of engagement on the app.

In a hearing last month, Haugen told Congress that Instagram knew the app was toxic for teens, especially teen girls. She had previously given internal research that had a presentation slide from 2019. That slide read, "We make body images worse for 1 in 3 teen girls."

Additionally, another slide included in a presentation last year said that "Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said that if people leave Instagram feeling worse about themselves, they take that seriously and they'll address it.

Still, parents aren't so sure. Dr. Suzy McNulty is a pediatrician and mom of two. To Today, she said, "We have seen a huge rise in eating disorders in our preteens and teens, and it’s very, very clear that there’s a social media (aspect) tied to it because these kids are coming in, they’re talking about glow up," "It’s like basically handing your child a dangerous weapon."

McNulty's teen daughter said about Instagram, "It’s just so addicting."

And that, mamas, is why we need to protect our kids as much as we can from the addictive properties of social media. There'll be plenty of time to adult. In the meantime, we need to realize how powerful social media can be for our kids and help them navigate through it with positivity.

Image: Syda Productions/Shutterstock