After leaked Instagram data shows mental health & body image impacts on kids, what are parents to do?

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABC4) – What’s a parent to do?

On Thursday, a top Facebook official faced scathing criticism from U.S. Senators over leaked internal data that suggests Instagram negatively impacts mental health and self-esteem in kids.

“Intense social pressure, addiction, body image issues, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts,” said Sen. Marsha Blackburn on Thursday.

“We don’t trust you,” added Blackburn.

On Thursday, University of Utah’s Director of The Center for Student Wellness shared advice and perspective with ABC4.

“The greater the distances between what we’re seeing and what we feel we are, it just is a breeding ground for body dissatisfaction and mental health issues,” said Brittany Badger, director of Center for Student Wellness.

“Social media has taken people’s bodies, and in particular women and young girls, and have put such a value on what that looks like,” said Badger.

What’s important for parents, she says, is trying to change the conversation. After all – whether we like it or not – social media is a ubiquitous reality and a way that kids communicate with each other.

“Instead of saying oh, you look pretty today – say you look like you got a lot of rest. Or, you look really healthy or energized today,” said Badger.

“It’s easy to blame social media for all of the problems,” added Badger. “I think that’s a bit of a flawed approach.”

Badger says parents are models, and kids will pay attention to the habits of parents on social media as well.

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