24% of young people are depressed – because of social media
1 in 4 girls will self-harm before they leave secondary school – because of social media
Girls are obsessed with their appearance – because of social media
Girls are now more aggressive and mean – because of social media
80% of girls will be on a diet by the age of 10 – because of social media
Teen girl suicides have tripled in the past 18 months – because of social media
Do you see a trend or a scapegoat???
You may not want to hear this but social media is not the cause of every scary stat or headline we see in the media at the moment. In reality the landscape has been shifting for over a decade and we have barely noticed. Now mental health services are on their knees and young people, girls, in particular, are in pain and screaming for help. Not surprisingly we are looking for someone or something to blame and social media fits the bill. But unfortunately, social media is only a communication platform. It simply reflects the society we live in and magnifies it. It does NOT create it.
• We seem to forget we mainstreamed porn leaving our kids sexual awakening in the hands of a $100 million dollar industry vying for their souls.
• We seem to forget we have failed to regulate the non-invasive cosmetic surgery industry who now target girls as young as 14 to crave botox, lip fillers and permanent make-up, swiftly followed by boob and butt jobs as they hit 18.
• We seem to forget we are failing to protect women from sexual predators, grooming gangs, domestic abuse, slut shaming and trolls.
• We seem to forget the world of work is moving at a snail’s pace in terms of tackling the gender pay gap and the wider issues relating to gender parity.
• We seem to forget we subscribe to academic prowess over character education in most of our schools placing unrelenting pressure on our children and taking away any opportunity to explore and take risks.
• We seem to forget how we have bought into the Reality TV epidemic where toxic messages jump of the screen, unquestioned, telling young girls that life is a competition, their key value is their appearance and it will never be good enough.
So the next time you see a scary headline about the latest research on mental health or eating disorders or bullying just take a moment to consider the bigger societal issues at play. Believe me this is uncomfortable to face. It is far easier to point the finger at Facebook or Instagram. Having a convenient outlet to blame may make us all feel better in the short term, but it does nothing to effect long term shifts needed to counteract the way we position, value and treat women.
For that we have to acknowledge the facts, stand together and take action.
Don’t be blindsided by the headlines.