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Gen Z defends social media against mental health claims

Marketing Week

A new study is challenging the view that the internet and social media are responsible for the mental health problems suffered by Gen Z.

According to agency ZAK, UCL research shows depression levels among Gen Z to be two thirds higher than among millennials. Many blame the influence of the internet, but ZAK’s study has found that 57% of those in Gen Z think mainstream media’s representation of social media is unfair in the context of mental health issues.

Instead, these younger consumers use digital spaces to find solidarity, show vulnerability, and share humour and hope, the research finds. However, some users believe social media has become ‘too mainstream’ and are instead using private message threads where brands cannot operate.

“Mainstream media attributes a lot of negative outcomes to social media without realising how much good it is doing,” says ZAK CCO Matt Bennett.

“The key issue for brands is how to be of use in the conversations rather than appear to be virtue signalling. Interpreting the apparent openness on the subject matter of a Gen Z audience is not an invitation. It’s way more complex than that.”