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Cyber Safe Parent: Is Instagram toxic for teen girls? |

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Cyber Safe Parent: Is Instagram toxic for teen girls?

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) -- A popular social media platform, compared to cigarettes?

There's thought now that Instagram may be as addictive.

Which could mean, we're as naive about the dangers, as we were with cigarettes 30-years ago.

"I think it's similar to what we had to the 50's, 60's, 70's where we didn't realize cigarettes were maybe hurting our health," said Tom Shininger a counselor and dean at Las Vegas Day School.

Instagram being compared to smoking cigarettes, that data is in and the numbers show that it is toxic for teen girls.

"What they're feeling isn't supposed to be happening, right, and it's happening because they're on the App," adds Shininger.

For three years, Facebook studied how Instagram impacts young users.

"'The worst part is how it makes you feel about yourself sometimes," Samantha Lefever an 8th-grade student tells 8 News Now.

32% of teen girls said when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.

It's called social comparison - The pressure to look perfect, and when teens compare themselves to others, it can change how they view themselves.

"Sometimes you can doubt your image and your self-worth based on what else you see other people post. So it just creates a little bit of self-doubt," Lefever added.

One compounding issue, the amount of time teens are on the app.

"Adults don't typically understand that by not being on the App, you're missing out," said Lefever.

"For most kids, and teenagers, they're not in charge of a lot," Shininger adds. "So the thing they really tag their self-esteem on, is social success."

Teens spend 50% more time on Instagram, than Facebook and tech experts keep your kids hooked, with curated content.

"Them finding content for you, the suggested content, I think that's something the kids really have to be aware what they're giving these companies is a key to their psyche on what will bring them back," said Shininger.

With the data showing Instagram, can worsen anxiety and depression, one key remedy for mental well-being: taking a break, and finding balance.

I personally handle it by making social media not my life, and only a part of my life, and only a part of my life, and I can always have the option to turn it off," said Lefever.

Samantha says she plays sports to get away from the screen.

"Definitely a little bit of a slower stress level," she adds.

In a small victory for living life off a screen, Facebook has suspended plans for an Instagram app tailored for even younger children, for now.

"I wouldn't want my third-grade self being on social media just yet, so I feel that kids should spend more time being kids," said Lefever.

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