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Removing likes off Instagram aims to help teens with depression

Posted at 6:25 PM, Jan 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-15 19:25:44-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Changes have come to one popular social media app. In some cases, Instagram, has started removing the ability to see likes on certain posts for some users. It's part of a trial run to see the impacts it has on mental health, especially for young people.

"People value those likes a lot and that possibly starts to guide their behavior, so when you get a lot likes, you get this reward center of your brain activated, so it gives you this feeling of being happy and content," said Trevor Bixler, psychologist at Boys Town.

That concept has created a culture of who can be the most popular, especially for young people. "I think with teenagers you're definitely going to have a lot of who's on top, who's doing the best, who is having the most likes and this is an natural area to have that happen," said Bixler.

So seeing other posts that have more likes than yours, can sometimes lead to mental health concerns. "People kind of feel a deflation or kind of a blow to self esteem when they don't get likes when you put something out there," said Bixler.

That's a main reason why Instagram is removing those likes from being seen for some accounts. "I think it's good, I think it helps with mental health, there's too much weight on numbers," said Shane Lundberg of Social Media Omaha.

This change can also impact businesses who use the app to promote their products. "Creators are creating based on what's going to get the likes and not what is meaningful content and to refocus and have to build that structure off stuff that is meaningful that's all it can do is help build that creativity," said Lundberg.

Some are still concerned there isn't enough transparency with this change, but Bixler says things that can help mental health is worth trying. "If we remove that part of seeking likes, or seeking being approved, it could be a very good thing," said Bixler.

If your account is chosen, you still will have full access to your own personal likes, so you can still see your own likes and your followers. There's no word on how long this trial run will last.