The “overwhelming pressure” of social media

Posted on: 13 February 2019

Naturally, a friend’s cheerful holiday snap may invoke pangs of jealousy if you’re consuming it while sitting at your desk on a grey weekday afternoon. But recent findings from the Prince’s Trust have shown that these feelings can have deeper effects.

The Princes Trust eBay Youth Index report for 2019 reported that 57% of young people (that is, 16-25-year-olds) find that social media creates an “overwhelming pressure to succeed”, while 46% report feelings of inadequacy brought on by their scrolling.

Almost half of those surveyed feel more anxious about their future when comparing themselves to others on social media, and one in six report feelings of panic when seeing the lives of their friends as depicted online.

Over the last decade, Nick Stace, UK Chief Executive of the Prince’s Trust, says: “Social media has become omnipresent in the lives of young people and this research suggests it is exacerbating what is already an uncertain and emotionally turbulent time.”

Interestingly, the report finds that 41% of young people feel more confident online than they do in person. This distinction between the online and IRL worlds is something of a new phenomenon, and it’s helpful for many of us to continually re-evaluate our relationship with our apps. The ubiquity of terms like “digital detox” today are indicative of our collective efforts to healthily navigate these new forms of socialising.

On the other hand, a third of respondents have said that social media makes them feel like they can have a voice for their generation and influence positive change. Encouraging also is the statistic that many more of those surveyed believed that sport and spending time with family is more important to them in terms of attaining happiness.

The Trust are aiming to enhance wellbeing through their programs designed to boost mental health literacy, and reduce the stigma associated with it. More generally, it’s perhaps important for all of us to continually assess both our social media output and consumption, and to appreciate the unfiltered in life.

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