Many parents worry about their daughter comparing herself to unrealistic presentations of celebrities’ lives on social media. They argue that most pictures are photoshopped, their feed is curated to post highlights of their lives, and that most celebrities’ accounts are managed by other people to maintain their reputation. This can lead to feelings of depression, low self-esteem, and fear of missing out. A recent study suggests that girls may improve their social media health by following high-achieving women whose interests matched theirs. Follow-up results demonstrated that intentionally following role models online can help shape girls’ career goals.
The Female Lead Project
Researchers used data from the educational charity, the Female Lead, that showed a correlation between girls’ restricted and unhealthy social media word output and the number of male of or female celebrities they followed. Reviewing the accounts of 34,500 girls showed that among the top 50 celebrities they followed, 72 percent were male. But about 10 percent of girls (3,057 of them) were found to use words that flagged their interests and passions and goals. Among these, 80 percent of the top 50 celebrities they followed were women.
The study recruited teen girls and asked them to come up with a list of their interests and possible goals. Then, they created a list of high-achieving women for each girl and asked them to follow at least four of them on social media. Nine months later, most of the girls reported that their idea of social media had been transformed.
Questions to Ask Your Daughter:
- Why do you use social media?
Many young women use social media to keep up with friends, the news, or entertainment. Participants in the study suggested that their biggest takeaway was realizing that social media could be used to offer guidance and vision. One girl noted, “obviously, it’s still social, but it’s not like about the materialistic side of it. It’s about other people doing really good things, like education and learning.” Participants who were more intentional about the information they were looking for online rather than mindlessly scrolling and stumbling upon things described their social media use as more meaningful than before.
- How do you decide to follow people?
Privacy is a big concern online, so many young women prefer just to follow close friends and family and are selective about who they let see their profiles. This study encouraged girls to think more deeply about what they valued in their relationships and what qualities they admired in other people. Some of the phrases the girls wrote down included journalist, tech, charity, CEO, woman, feminist, founder, and books. For many of them, this was the first time they recognized that they had something in common with the celebrities that they followed. They became more likely to read the captions of posts and find inspiration from the projects they were working on.
- How do you feel when you scroll through your feed?
This study suggests that the problem with social media isn’t that people use it often, it’s the way they feel when they spend time on apps. While they may find information stimulating, content often loses meaning when girls spend a lot of time mindlessly scrolling. Being more intentional about how they use social media helps girls feel more authentically connected as it can provide a sense of hope and inspiration. For girls who struggle with mental health issues, it is important to be aware of the effect social media can have on feeling isolated and insecure and to make an effort to change how they respond.
Journey Home Young Adult Can Help
Journey Home Young Adult is a transitional living program for young women ages 18-23. This program addresses emotional, behavioral, and mental health disorders that young women may face. Common presenting problems include depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, body image issues, ADHD and other learning issues, academic struggles, and low self-esteem. Journey Home creates an environment conducive to healing where young women can learn healthy coping skills while becoming more well-equipped to launch into adulthood. Students leave this program feeling empowered, happy, and healthy. We can help your family today!
Contact us at 855-918-0032.