I’ve gotten in the bad habit of checking my social media platforms from bed every morning when I wake up. Twitter gets me the news. Facebook shows me who had a baby or got married (yes, I’m in that stage of my life.) Instagram makes me want to quit my job and travel the world. Out of those three platforms, guess which one is the most detrimental to young people’s mental health? Instagram.
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. The researchers surveyed almost 1,500 young people, ages 14 to 24, from across the U.K. Based on the ratings participants gave each social media platform, the five most popular platforms were given the following ranking:
- YouTube (most positive)
- Instagram (most negative)
While the researchers acknowledge there is still much to be learned about social media’s impact on mental health, much of the report really resonated with me.
One participant from northern Ireland wrote: “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.’
I’ve totally been there and have personally been a part of the ever-evolving filter game. On the flip side, we’ve recently seen several companies changing campaigns to feature women who aren’t ‘perfect.’
Target received a ton of positive press around its swimsuit ads this year that featured women of all shapes and sizes. The photos were also unedited.
American Eagle’s lingerie brand, Aerie, said goodbye to Photoshop in 2014, and saw sales growth in both 2015 and 2016.
I’d be curious to know how these types of campaigns are impacting young people’s health. Are they creating as much positivity as I’d hope? Or do young people see these types of campaigns as a “marketing ploy?”
Either way, I do think that it is a brand’s responsibility to help create some sort of inclusiveness.
At Padilla, we provide social counsel to several clients. We always encourage brands to be authentic and reduce the amount of “marketing speak” in their content. Quality interactions with consumers are key and can help with the transformation from “follower” to “friend.”