At the start of the month, we welcomed Evie into our offices for work experience. At 15 years old, Evie fits neatly into the category of what some fancy intellectual types would call 'Generation Z' i.e. someone who is born in or later than 1995. Yup, we all felt really old that week.
Before her last day, we asked Evie to give us the lowdown on how she uses social media and what she uses it for. She gave us some great insights into the social media habits of Gen Z and how the next generation are using the platforms. You can read what she had to say below! Thanks Evie!
Snapchat and Instagram
As a teenager I enjoy surfing the internet in my free time and going on social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, which I check religiously on a daily basis. I enjoy these platforms because they give me time to relax and unwind from the day (which, as a teenager, I find extremely tiring!)
Social media helps me communicate and keep in touch with friends. I have personally rekindled some friendships and arranged to meet up with people through the powers of social media. Stalking your crush's Instagram is also a guilty upside.
Some people may think using social media is a weak way to keep in touch with friends or family because you're not actually talking in person so you're not really having a physical interaction with them. However, this is just a new way of communicating and is an alternative to writing letters. Since around 3500-3200 BC people have written letters to keep in touch, all the way up to around the 90s. However, as technology has advanced, opportunities to write letters have dwindled and it can almost be seen as ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘formal’. Using social media is more of a direct and efficient way of talking to friends.
I check social media everyday to reply to messages and see what’s going on in the world. I use both of my social media platforms in slightly different ways even though the platforms are very similar. I mainly use Snapchat to communicate with friends and arrange meetings. I also post 'stories' which disappear within 24 hours. I find these to be a useful and effective way to communicate because it makes it more real and up to date.
There are constantly news stories that are being added to the Snapchat news page. These posts are specifically arranged to be targeted at teenagers and uses our search histories to put out content that Snapchat thinks we will find interesting. My knowledge of the world has broadened since Snapchat has added this feature and my awareness of ‘adult’ topics had expanded.
I use Instagram for posting photos on my account that I feel reflect my personality and things that I am interested in. I follow celebrities and people I admire on Instagram too; I think this is important because it can challenge you and make you think differently than you do in your everyday life. I’m not really the type of girl that fan-girls over celebs and frequently updates themselves on their life but there are people that I look up to and I particularly like to get inspired by people and feel as if they have influenced me positively.
Joining Social Media
I was late when joining the world of social media as my parents were quite reluctant to setting me ‘free’. All my friends had Instagram and lots were using Snapchat but it didn’t appeal to me because I didn’t know what it was all about. When I got my first phone I was in year seven but the phone wasn’t compatible with Instagram and Snapchat so it was a while until I really got into the use of social media. A year later I got a new iPhone that could download these social media platforms. Like most young teenagers I think I definitely over used the apps and posted too many inspirational quotes to achieve that desired ‘Tumblr’ façade. This is a phase most people go through when they feel like they are slightly cooler than they actually are. However now, I’d like to think I have calmed down a bit and only post things that I reflect who I am; although maybe I will look back and regret everything that I’m doing right now. But you’ve got to live in the moment and as long I’m expressing myself as who I am, then that’s what counts.
Lately there has been more advertising on social media from new shoes to teeth whitening techniques. Some celebrities are paid to advertise products linked to body image and this can negatively affect teenagers. For example, social influencers like Kim Kardashian have advertised products such as ‘appetite suppressant’ lollipops. These sweets contain Satiereal, which they say is a “clinically proven safe active ingredient extracted from natural plants”. The website claims it makes you feel full, writing: “So, if you snack on them when you’re feeling hungry, it’ll suppress your appetite for a few hours!” This is having a terrible influence on young girls, especially when they see major influencers like Kim Kardashian promoting these products which imply that having a flat stomach is the ultimate goal. I try to avoid looking at promotions like this and remind myself that these aren’t people who live normal lives.
Kim Kardashian promoting Appetite Suppressant Lollipops - photo courtesy of Huffington Post
Sometimes I have given into advertising on social media, especially when it comes to clothes and makeup. There have been quite a few times where I have seen something that looks nice or interesting and fell for the attractive way the photo was taken and the promise that I will look like the model as soon as I try it on; I suppose that is the aim for the ad though!
Words Of Wisdom
There are many ways in which you can feel better about your body image if you're spending too much time looking at influencer's posts online. Influencers create many unrealistic goals for people and sometimes it’s hard to make yourself realise the abnormality of the lives these people lead. You should remind yourself of some of these things from time to time; be conscious about what your body is capable of every day. Keep in mind that the body is the instrument of your life and more than just decoration because lots of people set impractical intentions based on things they have seen on the internet. This could lead to people feeling down because they have not achieved their goals. Always take pride in yourself as a human being and walk tall and proudly. Some people are insecure about their body because of the stereotypes that are based around their gender. Yet this shouldn’t affect how you present yourself, as easy it is to say. You should always count your blessings and never worry about your blemishes - lately the media loves to point out the things that you could improve, rather than celebrating things that are positive about ourselves.
If I were to give advice to older generations about social media it would be to give it a go so that they can try and find the appeal for teenagers and can relate to how we use it. Despite its overwhelming popularity and impact on everyday life, many older people still find the thought of using social media very intimidating. I think that by helping grandparents take those first tentative steps to get online, you can play a key role in combating the appalling trend of loneliness that exists among the over 65s. Staying in touch with grandchildren can be critical to an older person’s sense of belonging and value. Using social media means they can stay in constant contact with everyday family affairs, no matter how far away they may be living. It’s especially useful if they are in a residential care placement, where they may have reduced family contact. As well as staying connected with existing friends, social media allows older people to identify local groups where they can easily connect with people living in the same town. These are just some of the reasons why social media should be used taken up by more people as it is a great tool to take up as long as it’s used correctly and in moderation.