Social Media’s Impact on Gen Z

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Social Media’s Impact on Gen Z

Source – www.bbc.com

Gen Z is often associated with social media and a constant reliance on technology. Is social media actually harming Gen Z, though? The world’s first digital-native generation has never known a time before the internet. Social media has fundamentally changed Gen Z’s lives and social structure, for better and worse.

The Negative Impact of Social Media on Gen Z

Unfortunately, the most prominent effects of social media on Gen Z are negative. Gen Z is also the first generation to experience these side effects of social media because they are the first generation to truly grow up immersed in the internet.

Body Dysmorphia

In 2021, Instagram’s parent company Facebook – now Meta – when research was revealed proving that Instagram is toxic for teen girls. The photo-sharing platform has led to a wave of body dysmorphia among Gen Z, particularly in girls and women.

Social media algorithms are built on pushing certain types of content that attract attention. Unfortunately, this often means teens’ social media feeds are flooded with photos of people with seemingly perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect makeup, and beautiful clothes. Girls are already under social pressure to meet conventional standards of beauty – a problem that is heavily worsened by social media.

Surveys have found that before posting them on social media. Another 63% report wishing they could look the way social media filters make them appear online. Photo editing, filters, and algorithms that push unattainable standards of beauty are leading Gen Z to be excessively critical of their own appearances.

Dependence on the Internet

Social media has also changed the social structure of Gen Z by creating an extreme reliance on the internet. This particular impact of social media on Gen Z was explored in the 2020 film “The Social Dilemma,” where a fictional teen boy found himself isolated from his friends after trying to quit using his smartphone. This is a challenge faced by all of Gen Z today.

Many members of Gen Z have been on social media since middle school. Their friend groups and social networks are all rooted in social media sites. This creates a dependence on social media for any kind of social connection. Anyone who is not online is effectively isolated. In the real world, Gen Z teens may have difficulty making friends without social media and connecting with others offline.

Depression and Anxiety

Unsurprisingly, the above impacts of social media on Gen Z are contributing to a much larger negative impact: Depression and anxiety. A study found that social media impacting their depression. Additionally, one in three members of Gen Z reports paying for more followers, and 47% report having deleted posts for not getting enough likes.

Social media is leading Gen Z to base their self-esteem and happiness on social media metrics. If they aren’t getting enough likes or followers, they may feel rejected. The incredibly large reach of social media does not help, either, because a lack of followers could be seen as a rejection by society at large, not just a group of other kids at school.

The Positive Impact of Social Media on Gen Z

Social media is impacting Gen Z in some positive ways as well as negative ways. In fact, many of the positive impacts of social media on Gen Z go beyond the internet and into the real world.

Authenticity and Independence

One thing that has become clear about Gen Z is how much they value authenticity. This may sound ironic given the issues mentioned above with editing one’s appearance online. However, this problem may be the reason why Gen Z has grown to highly value authenticity and independence, in both themselves and others.

That’s why businesses and organizations trying to reach Gen Z on social media need to show off their without any gimmicks. Gen Z can pick up on fake attitudes from a mile away, especially online. Social media has shown them what inauthenticity looks like, leading them to seek out people and things that are real.

This may even be why on social media, consisting of marketing focused on organic word of mouth and relationship building.

Social Empowerment

Arguably the greatest positive impact of social media on Gen Z is an incredible amount of social agency. Gen Z has turned social media into its own public stage for creating social change. They are using social media about social and environmental issues and campaign for positive change.

For instance, a teenage girl propelled the murder of George Floyd to global attention when she captured the man’s arrest on camera and posted it online. Similarly, Gen Z teen Greta Thunberg has become a global icon for the fight against climate change, largely thanks to social media.

Other teens are using social media to capture footage of peaceful protests, document the impact of wars and crises around the world, and campaign for human rights.

Greater Empathy and Inclusivity

One positive side effect of the massive reach of social media is the diverse community that Gen Z has grown up around. They are the most accepting and open-minded generation alive today. Studies have shown that of same-sex couples than older generations and more open-minded about gender identity.

Their activism online is also a testament to Gen Z’s empathy for others and their desire to improve life for all. Social media has allowed communities from all over the world to collide, leading Gen Z to be more inclusive of others than any generation before them.

Social Media and the Future of Gen Z

Social media is a crucial part of life and community for Gen Z, for better and for worse. It is clear that social media has serious negative repercussions for young people. At the same time, though, it is empowering Gen Z to speak up for positive change and connect with people and cultures from all over the world.

Ultimately, the future of Gen Z will always be online. The question is whether or not the world can find a way to amend the harmful side of social media while strengthening its positive side.


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Author: Eleanor

Eleanor is the editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the director at a marketing firm prior to becoming a freelance web designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and dog, Bear.

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