In conjunction with the Jed Foundation (JED) — a nonprofit which works to promote measures protecting the emotional health of young adults and teens — Instagram published a new toolkit titled Pressure to be Perfect addressing the pressure to be perfect fueled by the digital age.
“We want to encourage you to be mindful of how time online impacts your emotional well-being, share some tips and tools that can improve your experience, and connect you with resources for further thought and discussion,” the toolkit states.
The Pressure to Be Perfect
Parsed out into separate guides, one dedicated towards teens and the other towards parents, the aim is to foster a better understanding of how to navigate the app. Specifically, how you can enhance your experience through awareness of the potential psychological impacts of having a profile.
The overarching theme with this initiative is to help users recognize that what they see on the platform is only one piece of someone’s life that they willingly chose to share. When we acknowledge this, we can move from a place where we feel obligated to present ourselves in ways that are often distorted and driven by the need to conform to one of more thoughtful sharing that is accurate to who we are.
“A big part of Pressure to be Perfect is making sure you have a strong sense of what you want to share and when, keeping a good perspective on the role the platform plays in your life, and knowing how to help others who seem to be struggling.”
The Teen Guide
Looking at the guide for teens, the interactive toolkit features quizzes, essays, how-to’s and tips to boost greater self-awareness when using the platform. Rather than serve as a rule book, the education comes from testing what you already know and encouraging conversations on this important topic based on the individual’s results.
Quizzes feature topics including sharing with sensitivity, maintaining perspective, and responding with kindness. Important insights gleaned upon taking each include the importance of thinking about where you’ll share your content and who will see it, being mindful of your emotions during online interactions, and finding opportunities to help someone who is experiencing distress.
General recommendations shared by the guide include performing routine maintenance on your account – are you following people who connect you to existing interests and make you feel good about yourself? IF not, it may be time for a trim so you can free up some space for more of these people. For inspiration when adding to your followers, a great way to start is by browsing hashtags with keywords aligning with your interests and hobbies.
Beyond unfollowing, other ways to separate yourself from accounts that breed negativity, according to the guide, include muting and restricting. Comments from people you restrict will only be visible to them unless you approve them. Restricted people also won’t be able to see when you’re online or when you’ve read their messages. If this feels too extreme, you can opt to mute
To mute someone, tap the “…” menu in the corner of one of their posts. You can mute feed posts, story posts, or both from an account. You can also mute someone by pressing and holding their story.
The Parent Guide
“One of the most important things we can do for the teens in our lives is to help them focus on their strengths and qualities beyond their physical selves.”
In the spirit of this statement, the parents’ guide emphasizes tips for indicating when a child may be suffering from depression as a result of their social media engagement, what they can do to help improve their kid’s online experiences, and highlights of the tools of the platform available to help.
Key themes of the guidance span enhancing media literacy, the ability to critically analyze and evaluate media messaging, managing the pitfalls of social media, taking control, and counteracting negativity by filling feeds with positivity.
The important takeaway here: the more young people are encouraged to take control of their engagement versus be passive consumers, the greater the likelihood the content will reflect the true sense of who they are. Platforms and adults should, therefore, encourage teens to challenge the ideals and evolve into conscious consumers.
This isn’t the first case of Instagram making a push to protect at-risk users. Most recently, the platform announced the removal of total Like counts, also targeted to reduce the pressure to compare.
Designing feed control in favor of consumers and encouraging them to learn more about the kinds of unhealthy triggers they are regularly served will help them define their own definition of a ‘healthy information diet,” an effort that can and will continue to be good for businesses but also will advance us as a society.
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