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Is social media harming Gen Zers?

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Gen Z has grown up alongside social media. Unlike other generations, Gen Z has always known a world where social media has been pervasive. Here’s the results of the ExpressVPN’s study on Gen Z and social media.

The survey

This study involved surveying 4,500 people between the ages of 16 and 24. Fifteen hundred of those surveyed were from the United States.

Focusing on these responses, it’s clear that social media has a significant impact on the happiness (and anxiety levels) of Gen Zers. In fact, more than 85 percent of those surveyed reported that social media had a direct impact on their happiness. About half of those surveyed confessed to deleting posts that hadn’t received significant attention on their favorite platforms.

Further, more than 60 percent of people felt the recent addition of being able to “hide” likes relieved some of that anxiety. Though those surveyed freely add that social media was linked to happiness and anxiety, everyone surveyed said they had at least one social media account. And, 20 percent of surveyed people said they wouldn’t give up their favorite platform — not even for a million dollars.

Having social media accounts is so common that 36 percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t want to date someone without a social media account or presence. However, those surveyed also said they experienced envy of those who don’t keep social media accounts.

When it comes to favorite platforms, it’s clear that Gen Z prefers those that focus on video content. In fact, Twitter, which famously made its mark on social media using 160 characters or less, was at the bottom of the stack, with fewer than 50 percent of Gen Zers having accounts. Those respondents who have Twitter and Facebook accounts estimated they spent less than 15 minutes on those platforms every day.

Tik Tok and YouTube, on the other hand, boast the highest daily usage times. More than 50 percent of those surveyed said they clocked more than an hour each day on those platforms. Some of those surveyed even said they were spending more than five hours each day on the platform.

As for concerns related to social media use, Gen Z focused on mental and emotional health. They worried about addiction to social media platforms and linked both their self-image and their self-esteem to interactions on their social media accounts. Surprisingly, gender played a minor role in this; both male and female Gen Zers shared anxiety related to social media use.

Growing up with social media has also given the Gen Z population a healthy dose of distrust for social media companies. Because of this, they welcome updates and features to their platforms that protect their privacy. Many share the concern that their social media images are being used for facial recognition technology without their express permission.

Though Gen Zers are preoccupied with maintaining their privacy, they aren’t always making the best choices when it comes to cybersecurity. In fact, 33 percent of Gen Zers admitted they had included information in their social media profiles that was linked to passwords they used.

Gen Zers also regularly share personal information with their social media platform that could be used for identity theft purposes. Birthdate, birth location, places of employment, and phone numbers were all freely shared.

The final word

Social media natives, Gen Zers, are in the unique position of knowing the risks that come along with using social media. At the same time, it’s become so integrated that it’s become hard to quit. It’s clear that Gen Z is worried about mental health — and clear that social media is starting to understand that concern. Only time will tell if the changes social media platforms are implementing will begin to undo the damage that’s been done.

Story by Pams Gibbson

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