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This social media site ranked worst for mental health

Instagram is the most detrimental social media platform to young people's mental health, according to new research out of the U.K.

Researchers from the Royal Society for Public Health in conjunction with the Young Health Movement published the report entitled  #StatusOfMind , which looks at the positive and negative effects of social media on young people's health and well-being.

Snapchat ranked the second worst for mental health of the sites reviewed in the report, followed by Facebook . On the plus side,  YouTube topped the list as the most positive, with Twitter coming in after it.

The researchers surveyed almost 1,500 teens and young people aged 14 to 24 from across the U.K. to score how each of the social media platforms they use impacts 14 specific factors related to their health and well-being.

These included emotional support, depression , body image , loneliness, sleep , self-expression, self-identity, community building, and  bullying , among others.

Based on the ratings participants gave each social media platform, the five most popular were given a net average score to establish the following ranking:

  1. YouTube (most positive)
  2. Twitter
  3. Facebook
  4. Snapchat
  5. Instagram (most negative)

" Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people's mental health issues," Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said in a statement.

Cramer notes that both Instagram and Snapchat "are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people."

"Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren't good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look 'perfect,'" one participant from Northern Ireland wrote.

Another said: "Anonymous bullying online over Twitter around personal things has led to me self-harming and left afraid of going to school. Bullying on Instagram has lead me to attempt suicide and also self-harm. Both caused me to experience depressive episodes and anxiety."

Social media is far more prevalent in younger generations and many young people have never known a world without instant access to the internet and social media platforms.

A number of studies in recent years have raised concerns about the potential health effects of frequent social media use  on young people – particularly when it comes to mental health.

While the researchers acknowledge there is still much to be learned about social media's impact on mental health, they say these are important conversations that need to be further explored, especially surrounding young people who are the most vulnerable to potential harms.

The report also discusses ways to reduce the risks and calls for action from government and social media companies to help promote positive aspects of social media.

These recommendations include:

  • A pop-up "heavy usage warning" on social media –  7 in 10 young people surveyed supported the idea of getting
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At tech companies, egg freezing benefits are all the rage

When Leslie Kennedy landed a job at Facebook and moved from New York to California, she hadn't given much thought to having a family. She was 30, single and focused on her career.

"I always knew that if I were to have a family, there were options -- whether it be adoption or egg freezing or being one rock-star aunt," Kennedy says. "I knew I had a very fulfilling life ahead of me, so it felt like I didn't have that pressure."

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Aaron Robinson/CNET

After a couple of years at Facebook, Kennedy learned the social network was expanding its family-planning benefits to offer everything from adoption assistance to paid surrogacy to egg freezing. That's unusual. Most U.S. companies don't even offer paid maternity leave, much less egg freezing. Those types of benefits are expensive.

Egg freezing costs at least $10,000 a shot. It involves a surgical procedure in which a doctor retrieves eggs from a woman's ovaries and then freezes them for use at a later date. While conceiving naturally can be difficult for women in their late 30s and 40s, research suggests they can carry a baby to term well into their 50s.

Although Kennedy wasn't really thinking of getting her eggs frozen, she began to hear lots of buzz around the office as colleagues took advantage of the benefit.

"It just came up if you were above 30 and single," Kennedy says.

So at 33 and just beginning a new relationship, she decided to take the plunge.

Facebook was the first tech company to announce it would pay for egg freezing -- both for female staff and the spouses of its employees. That was in 2014. Soon after, Apple  started offering it as a benefit  too.

Today, at least a dozen tech companies have jumped on board -- from Google to Uber to Yahoo.

"In 2016 we introduced a cryopreservation benefit that covers the freezing, storage and thawing of oocytes [egg cells], sperm and embryos," says Carolyn Clark, Yahoo's head of global internal communications. "Cryopreservation is part of a suite of family benefits that Yahoo offers, including generous parental leave program, infertility benefits, adoption assistance and more."

Tech companies are known for  offering impressive perks  -- like gourmet food, massages and dry cleaning -- to attract employees. They're also under pressure to attract more female employees to their  mostly male workforces . Those two issues have put egg freezing and other fertility benefits on the vanguard of what tech companies are offering to entice and hold onto employees.

"I'm seeing big reasons why this policy has come to the front," says Dan Bernstein, senior consultant at human resources consulting firm Mercer. "The first and foremost is the significant war for talent among high-tech companies, including the real need to attract and retain the best and brightest women."

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