What Real-life Gen Z Children Kids are Saying about Social Media

Is it possible that Gen Z kids have had it with social media?

According to Lesley Bielby writing in The Drum, this could very well be the case.

Bielby, chief strategy officer at Hill Holliday and HHBrandable (and self-described Gen Xer) thinks Gen Z may have OD’d on its steady diet of social media.

“Recently I was completing a global project for a major fashion brand, which focused on the use of social media by young influencers between 16 and 24,” Bielby explains. “I was short a few interviews, so in a crunch, put my own three Gen Z children in front of the camera. What I heard disturbed me, both as an agency CSO, and even more, as a parent.”

“My daughter confessed that ‘Social media makes you create a standard for yourself that is almost impossible to maintain. It’s exhausting and overwhelming.’ She may as well have just reached out and ripped my heart out,” she notes.

Ouch. Any parent knows this kind of pain. And as a society, we are grappling with the dark side of social media. It’s a harsh wake-up call for all of us to realize what’s really going on here.

Bielby speaks of social media appearing to have “crossed a line,” especially when it comes to the well-being our youngest generations. Results of a recent HHBrandable survey point this out in stark relief. Bielby notes that data validates what many of us already suspected.

“Overall, 41% of Gen Z social media users surveyed state that it’s made them feel anxious, sad or depressed. 66% of this group state that this occurs ‘often’ or ‘sometimes.’”

Respondents talked about quitting social media or complaining about the negativity there. And a good 22% said they “wanted more privacy.” Three out of four say people their age are too distracted by social media, and 64% of these young people say “people my age need to be more careful using social media.”

Out of the mouths of babes:

  • I fall into the habit of comparing myself to others. Sometimes I feel I’m wasting away my youth.”
  • “I can blatantly see that other people are more well-liked than me.”
  • “Sometimes I feel like no one cares about what I post, and I don’t get comments or likes very often.”

For Bielby, it’s a delicate dance. She insists that we can no longer act irresponsibly by “ignoring the negative aspects of social engagement. Rather, we have an opportunity to help our clients become an authentic source of light that outshines the dark in social media. This starts with a strategy that acts in the best interest of consumers first, and is more thoughtful in the choices of platforms, influencers, and content.”

Does a brand bear a certain level of responsibility toward its audience? I’d say yes. As more Gen X parents (like Bielby) assume leadership roles in marketing and business, perhaps this attitude will become more widespread.

“Just as Gen Z will to the next generation – whose challenges will likely be even greater as the digital universe continues to eclipse IRL. That’s in real life, in case you happen to be over 40,” she concludes. Let’s hope they are up to the task.