Over the past decade, social media has grown beyond what anyone could probably imagine.
It’s gone from being a place for people to primarily keep in touch with friends and family who don’t live close by, to a place where even peoples’ dirty laundry is somewhat aired. Nice.
But how much do young people really love being on it these days?
Digital Awareness UK teamed up with the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference to carry out a survey on about 5,000 students at independent and state schools in England, and we can tell you their findings were quite surprising.
Results showed that almost two-thirds of those who took part wouldn’t really care if social media hadn’t even been invented.
If we break down the stats:
- 63% wouldn’t care if social media didn’t exist at all
- 71% said they’d openly tried to escape it for a while by taking temporary “digital detoxes”
What the study really showed was that to a large degree, social media does have a negative impact on the emotional wellbeing of youngsters today.
Digital Awareness UK concluded the following:
- 57% of the students had received abusive comments online
- 56% admitted to being addicted to it
- 52% said that being on social media made them feel less confident about their appearance, or that their lives really aren’t very interesting
- 60% strongly believed that their friends highlighted a “fake version” of themselves online – but of course, no one openly admitted to doing it themselves
Charlotte Robertson, co-founder of Digital Awareness UK, commented, “While it’s a matter of concern to see the emotional impact social media is having on young people’s health and wellbeing, it’s encouraging to see that they are also employing smart strategies such as digital detoxing to take control of their social media use.
deleted all social media apps from my phone so that only access them when I need to and stop depressing myself
— Cindy Kimberly (@wolfiecindy) October 5, 2017
“Social media allows us to be creative, connected, to campaign for things we believe in, to become entrepreneurs.
“If online abuse or fake news stops it from flourishing we all lose.
“This research is a real wake-up call for all of us working in social media to ensure that we listen to the needs of young people, who will ultimately dictate the direction in which the industry moves.” Too right!
So while this research was carried out on students, the same views still apply to the rest of us. Granted, online abuse doesn’t happen EVERY single time you log on, but it’s still very much a thing that needs to be controlled and even stopped.
Take Instagram for example. Lots of people use that as a sort of “brand awareness” now – no one’s ever going to post a photo of themselves when they’ve JUST woken up, or in trackie bottoms – that would spoil the illusion of the “happy-go-lucky” perfect lives we all lead.
What have celebs got to say on the matter?
Back in 2015, Alexa Chung was interviewed by Stella magazine and she had similar thoughts.
“No one is as happy as they seem on Instagram.
“[I’ll tell friends of mine],’You need to stop putting stuff up [that] looks perfect.’
“But then Instagram would be awful if it was reality, wouldn’t it? ‘Here are my spaghetti hoops and me crying over EastEnders.’”
So there we have it – we all know deep down that social media is just a version of what we want people to see. The problem is, we still can’t help how much we love the pretty pictures.
First published 6th October 2017