With scrutiny over their negative impact on young people, social media and TV companies are making attempts to offer support and guidance
Social media can be a wonderful place. Somewhere to connect with others, learn and find joy. Unfortunately, it also has a darker side. We can compare ourselves and actively search for content that might harm us. Similarly to Instagram which has come under scrutiny for its impact on users mental health, TikTok can have a dark side.
In a bid to counter this and support users who may be struggling with their mental health, TikTok has announced a new set of features which will support and offer guidance. If a user searches for terms such as ‘suicide’ they will see an intervention that directs them to support resources, including the Samaritans' phone number. There are also guides on wellbeing for those struggling with eating disorders.
When announcing these features, TikTok said:
"We care deeply about our community, and we always look for new ways in which we can nurture their well-being. That's why we're taking additional steps to make it easier for people to find resources when they need them on TikTok."
Features like this are a great step in protecting TikTok’s audience. Another organisation making attempts at protecting mental health is The Only Way is Essex (or TOWIE, as it’s known by fans).
At the end of the latest episode, the first in a new series, TOWIE revealed a statement and a voiceover which read the following:
"While we welcome your opinions on what you see on screen, please remember that these people are real and what you say about them online could have an impact on their mental well-being, so please think before you comment."
Further to this, TOWIE is dedicated to educating its audience online, via the realm of social media. In a recent Instagram story highlight, TOWIE released the following statement to its followers:
"In the interests of protecting the welfare of our cast, we are taking measures to create healthier discussion on our platforms. Trolling will not be tolerated in any form. Personal attacks and trolling comments including offensive, abusive and prejudicial language will be automatically deleted and users consistently trolling will be permanently blocked."
This encouragement comes after ITV have faced criticisms for not protecting reality TV stars. There have been several tragedies in this space, including former Love Islanders Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis, Jeremy Kyle guest Steve Dymond and former Love Island presenter Caroline Flack.
While the statement has good intentions and is a valuable reminder to audiences, TOWIE has been criticised for the fact that it came after an episode where cast member Chloe Brockett was being openly scrutinised and humiliated by fellow cast members over her relationship with co-star Lockie.
These are good first steps from TikTok and Towie, but the work doesn’t stop here. The media we consume has a huge impact on both audiences and those on-screen, and more responsibility from the man behind the curtain is needed. Let’s hope the work continues.
If you’re feeling negatively impacted by social media, here are some quick tips to help improve your social media wellbeing:
- Give your following list an audit. Are there people you follow who don’t make you feel good? Try muting or unfollowing and see how your experience on the platform changes. Then actively seek out more positive and inspiring accounts.
- Remember there are humans on the other end of the avatar you see online. Think about how your comment/message will make them feel. Try to speak out about things you love and want to give credit for as much as things you disagree with.
- Take a break if you need it. Social media can be a loud place, give yourself some quiet time when it all gets a bit much with a break from social media.