Impact of Influencer Culture

How to help young people create a more positive online space

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Through our ‘#Influencer’ article, we are exploring the topic of influencer culture, as partof the SWGfL Digital Wellbeing hub, and the impact that this can have on a young person’s wellbeing. To coincide with that article, we have developed a supporting resource; emphasising the impact of influencer culture whilst taking you through the steps that teachers, parents and carers can take to support young people to help them to create a more positive online space.

Help younger people to understand what triggers negative feeling

Talk to them about the accounts they follow, how long they are on social media for and how they feel after using social media after a long period of time. Once triggers have been identified they can take steps into creating a more positive routine.

Teach them about types of influencer content

Posts that promote a product are most likely to be set up in a more  manufactured way, just like an ad. Young people can look for certain hashtags or wording to find difference between every day posts, and promoted content. For example most influencer posts will feature #AD or the company they’ve partnered with (e.g. if they’re promoting a service, that business will be tagged or their hashtag shared)

Help them to think more positively about their own lifestyle

We’ve mentioned how young people can compare themselves to influencers when they view this type of content. There’s no doubt that many young people will wish to have aspects of their life that they see on their phones, but you can teach them to think more positively about what they do have, to ease this need to compare. Once they start to think about their positive friendship groups, fun activities they enjoy or time spent with a loved one, they will become more appreciative and will begin to acknowledge influencer content in different ways.

Help them to limit social media use

Moderation is key! Chocolate lovers are always told to eat chocolate in moderation as toomuch can be bad for us; well, that can also be the case for social media! The type of influencer content that we’ve highlighted may not be harmful to a young viewer but if they’re consuming it quickly and in large amounts, then that is most likely to contribute to negative feeling. Talk to young people about cutting down social media time, so they don’t become too overwhelmed by what they see.

Make sure young people are viewing suitable accounts

On social media, younger people will follow famous faces that they’ve seen on TV, YouTube or influencers that they’ve been introduced to on platforms such as TikTok. It’s important to make sure that they’re following people who are suited to their age group. Influencers and celebrities who are aimed at older age groups may promote or post content that won’t be suitable for younger audiences. In other instances, influencers who are suitable might start talking about and highlighting important issues that younger people may not understand. In both cases, highlight unsuitable accounts and posts to a young person in your care, so they can view content that won’t cause them to become uncomfortable or develop negative thinking.

If you’re a teacher, you can access more resources about social media and social mediawellbeing from our Digital Wellbeing topics page, or from ProjectEVOLVE’s variety of resources. For more online safety guidance, resources and advice, parents, carers and teachers can subscribe to our newsletter. Professionals can also gain more knowledge around the online world by signing up to our online safety training!

If you know a young person who is struggling with their wellbeing or anything related to the points above, then please do reach out to organisations such as Mind, YoungMinds or any NHS Mental Health Service.

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