Prolific Instagram user Madonna says social media 'is made to make you feel bad'

The pop star, who has millions of followers on the platform, says Instagram binds people to their image

FILE PHOTO: 2019 Billboard Music Awards- Show - Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., May 1, 2019 - Madonna performs with Maluma (not shown). REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo
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She may have 13.8 million followers, but Madonna, it turns out, isn't the biggest fan of Instagram.

In fact, the singer, who regularly uses social media to connect with her audience and promote her work, has this week warned of the pitfalls of the photo-sharing platform, revealing her belief that it encourages negative self-esteem.

"You get caught up in comparing yourself to others. I think Instagram is made to make you feel bad," the 60-year-old told British newspaper The Sun. "People are really a slave to winning people's approvals."

Despite her criticism of the social media site, Madonna has posted more than 4,000 images in her Instagram account's history, sharing snippets of her family life as well as her latest work.

However, the star – who this month is returning to the airwaves with her new album, Madame X – added that she was thankful social media wasn't around when she was starting out in her career.

"I was lucky enough to have a life as an artist before the phone and Instagram and social media because I did have that time to develop as an artist and a human without feeling the pressure of judgment of other people or comparing myself to other people," the Like a Prayer singer told the publication, adding that the culture of social media now "runs people's lives".

Madonna has previously spoken about the dangers of the all-consuming nature of social media, telling British Vogue last month that her relationship with her oldest children suffered as a result.

"I made a mistake when I gave my older children phones when they were 13," she said.

"It ended my relationship with them, really. Not completely, but it became a very, very big part of their lives. They became too inundated with imagery and started to compare themselves to other people, and that's really bad for self-growth."

The Grammy winner has six children: Lourdes, 22, Rocco, 18, David, 13, Mercy, 13, and twins Stelle and Estere, 6. Her younger four children, all adopted from Malawi, have been banned from owning phones, the star revealed.

Madonna's comments come amid a growing fear over the impact of social media on the younger generation. A recent study by Global Web Index found that on average, people aged 16 to 24 spend three hours a day on social media platforms, while those aged 25 to 34 spend two hours and 37 minutes and 35 to 44-year-olds spend two hours and four minutes.

The dangers of such a reliance on social media are frequently the topic of numerous headlines, citing anxiety, a lack of exercise and poor sleep among the negative effects.

Madonna previously told Vogue she has tried to discourage Lourdes from becoming "consumed" by social media, adding that she feels the culture has made her daughter more complacent.

"She is insanely talented," the singer said of her eldest. "She's incredible at everything she does – she's an incredible dancer, she's a great actress, she plays the piano beautifully, she's way better than me in the talent department.

"But she doesn't have the same drive, and again, I feel social media plagues her and makes her feel like, 'People are going to give me things because I'm [Madonna's] daughter'."