It is undeniable that social media has become part of our daily routine. In the past 2 years, the pandemic has limited in-person interactions, and people are spending significantly more time online seeking connection and entertainment. As people are turning to social media more frequently, persistent issues such as misrepresentation of reality continue to negatively impact users. Many have reported feeling a negative shift in their overall mental health after using social media, and users are taking action by unfollowing accounts that are affecting their overall wellbeing. In fact, in a survey recently conducted by Playsee, 86% of the survey respondents have expressed interest in seeing more authentic and less filtered content that more closely reflects daily, real-life experiences. These people are paving a brighter social media environment for the next generation of social media users, voicing the desire for more relatable and positive content.
What is causing negative effects on social media users’ wellbeing?
Most of us use at least one social media platform to scroll through the latest news, pictures, and updates from the people we know or are interested in. With restricted social interactions imposed by the pandemic, 65% of social media users have reported 1 or more hours of increased screen time during the pandemic, and 30% said they now spend 4+ hours using social media applications on a daily basis. While many are seeking more connectivity online, the lack of representation is causing users to feel put down after long periods on social media, consequently, 33% of survey respondents reported they strongly agree they feel a negative shift in their overall mood after being on social media for too long.
Negative mental impacts such as anxiety and stress can be attributed to the constant exposure to unrealistic standards and social comparison online. The current social media landscape sells the idea that perfectionism is possible. When people see others posting content that seems to reflect a perfect life, they may perceive themselves negatively for not living up to that standard.
The data shows that people are getting burned out and tired of constantly being pushed with unrealistic body images and lifestyles.
What can social media platforms do to ensure they are creating a healthier social media environment for the next generation of users?
The online social environment has the potential to become a more inviting and inclusive space. Over 60% of survey respondents agree that successful content creators have similar feeds, and they are ready to see something different – 56% reported they will begin to follow accounts that uplift them and 36% said they will engage more with creators focused on positivity and inclusion. These statistics indicate an ever-present demand for real everyday life moments and experiences that should be seen and heard. That said, attention should be placed on the methods platforms employ to bring people closer, including using unique and tailored algorithms and intentionally not providing filters. As a result, users can step out of the filter bubble and feel empowered to create and share more authentic content. The notion of user-generated content further encourages people to share more real-life, unfiltered experiences – ultimately making them feel comfortable in their own skin. All in all, these shifts will increase authenticity and positivity within the social media space for the current and the next generations of users alike.
Written by Wendy Mei, Head of Product & Strategy atPlaysee