People would be hard pressed to go through their social media accounts these days without coming across an influencer and their content. An influencer, according to Birmingham City Institute, is a person with a significant following on social media sites. Influencers often make money from persuading their fans to purchase products.
Over the years, social media has surged in popularity, with several apps receiving millions of users daily. According to Backlinko.com, 4.48 billion people currently use social media as of 2021, a number twice as large as in 2015. With the growth of social media has come more influencers, many of which have grown exponentially and become some of the most popular people on their respective platforms.
Although people enjoy social media for its addicting content, it can have a negative impact. According to Common Sense Media, tweens spend an average of four hours and 44 minutes on social media everyday. My concern is that kids may believe the clothes, the unrealistic body standards and the luxurious lifestyle that influencers display is the only way to be accepted. In a study conducted by RSPH, individuals who spent the most time on social media platforms showed a 66% higher rate of depression in comparison to those who spent the least amount of time on the platforms. I am concerned as these numbers continue to grow and children and young adults spend more and more time on their phones and on social media, they will tie their identity and self-worth to their following and trends. I am worried that kids will go to great lengths to gain this unhealthy attention.
However, there are platforms that are putting forth the effort to help alleviate the issues of self-esteem and image issues in young adults that may be caused by what is seen on social media. TikTok, a platform that has exploded in popularity, announced it is releasing a safety guide to address mental health issues, according to Shape.com. The safety guide, which is available online and in the Safety Center of the app, provides information, advice and support pertaining to eating disorders, bullying prevention and overall well-being. I appreciate apps that incorporate resources like this and make them readily available to their users.
Another one of my major concerns with the growth of social media, especially in the younger generation, is the lessons it may teach. I am worried that it could teach young people that college is unimportant, that becoming a social media influencer can be a quicker path to success. Young people may spend their free time making social media videos in the hope of becoming famous and signing with a talent agency. Instead, they should devote their energy to going to school and earning a degree. In my opinion, having a steady career is preferable to relying on the ‘likes’ of your followers to help pay the bills.