If you are reading this, you know a lot of people use social media. In fact, a recent study suggested that a whopping 2.14 billion users were identified globally in 2015 of which 35 million were in the UK (recorded beginning of 2016). The social media industry is growing at a solid rate – the number of profiles created by people between 16 and 24 years of age also saw a steady increase from 86% in 2010 to 91% in 2015.
For most businesses, social media has become an essential marketing tool and for the end user, there are benefits – easy access to information, groups and networks, instant/readily digestible entertainment to name a few. The problem however are studies now linking an increase in anxiety and depression among adolescents, especially girls, with social media.
“The Good Child Report 2016” found that as girls matured between 2009 and 2014, they were far unhappier than boys, predominately due to pressures around appearance. Pressure to conform to idealized standards have long existed pre-social media, but with the ability to manipulate photos (so one can look skinnier or their skin flawless for example), and the visual nature of social media itself, the stakes are raised even higher for girls to meet these unrealistic ideals. Take this quote for example. It underscores the impact of social media on girls’ psyche,
‘ “I knew a girl who had an eating disorder. We all knew it. It got so bad that she ended up going to a treatment center, but when she put pictures up of herself on the beach looking super-thin everyone liked them anyway,” ’ 
The cause in higher rates of depression and anxiety have not yet been officially linked with the higher social media usage; however, there is some hard evidence that cannot be ignored.
“…a new government study of changes in teenage mental health in Britain over the decade of social media’s inexorable rise makes troubling reading. It shows a 10 per cent increase since 2005 in the number of girls aged 14 or 15 suffering from depression or anxiety. Girls are now twice as likely as boys to display symptoms of mental illness….”
‘ “There definitely does seem to be something happening – it’s a slow- growing epidemic,”… we have seen a very disturbing change in admissions to hospital for self-harm in under-16s that have gone up by 52%.” ‘
Social media provides an unregulated platform to magnify the problems and concerns that have always been commonplace among adolescents. Breakdowns in friendships, relationships and bullying all occurred before the internet, but it required more assertive behavior because it required verbal and/or face-to-face communication. Social media now brings in a non-verbal element, allowing for people to hide behind anonymous usernames or profiles and to carry out actions that can live on forever on the internet.
Due to the increased popularity of social media users, it's easy to see why social media marketing has become one of the most important components of any businesses plan; however, with evidence pointing to a causal link between social media and adolescent girls’ unhappiness, businesses have a responsibility too.
As a company whose ethos involves empowering girls by supporting self-awareness, happiness and health, the idea of using social media – something that is contributing to anxiety and depression – feels at times hypocritical. On the other hand, not having a social media presence is also unrealistic.
ON! Juniper is therefore taking measures to develop safeguards within our marketing plans, especially social media. We are doing what we preach; putting girls first to build an honest and trustworthy brand that empowers girls. We will also begin to reach out to our customers to get their views on how to tackle this worrisome issue. If you have any suggestions or lessons learned to share, please reach out to us here at ON! Juniper.
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Blog by, Tess Ackland
Tess is the founder and Director of ON! Juniper, a lifestyle brand that supports girl empowerment through building self-awareness, health and happiness. ON! Juniper hand-makes organic + natural lip balms and bath bombs for girls.
 from an interview with The Times, http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/teenagers-struck-by-depression-epidemic-gnc05fht8