Influencer marketing is big in the US, with many most-followed social media stars hailing from the country. Brands and small businesses spent a staggering $4.14 billion on influencer marketing in 2022, and the number continues to grow. Instagram celebs have the largest market share, considering the massive user base of the platform.
Influencer culture shapes trends and consumer behavior today, with a profound impact on teenagers. Statistics show that two in three American teens follow social influencers, mostly on Instagram because it is their favorite channel. But behind the façade of perfect lifestyles and flawless appearances, the dark side of influencer culture may negatively affect young minds.
As a parent or teenager following your favorite celebrity on Instagram, you must understand the dire implications of this unhealthy side. Awareness can help you prevent them. Let us highlight the risks and solutions in this context.
Inspiration or Unrealistic Standards?
Are social influencers a source of inspiration for youngsters? Or do they pressurize them with unrealistic standards? The latter is true for young people who often fail to see the truth behind flawlessly-edited images, picture-perfect vacations, and gorgeous bodies. Influencers create a lifelike illusion of perfection that is deceptive and intoxicating.
According to Dr. Ivan Puah, a leading liposuction and gynecomastia doctor, social media posts by celebs lead to unrealistic beauty standards. Even worse, these standards contribute significantly to the increase in botched surgeries. Youngsters are at high risk of falling for marketing gimmicks and perfection standards set by influencers only for money.
The Impact on Teen Mental Health
TorHoerman Law highlights research suggesting the harmful effects of the social influencer culture on young people. Women and young girls are more vulnerable to unrealistic beauty standards and fear of missing out (FOMO).
Here are some ways social influencer following can affect the mental health of followers:
Anxiety and Depression
Studies validate the link between social media use and issues such as anxiety and depression. The influencer culture worsens the situation. The relentless pursuit of popularity and followers creates immense pressure on influencers themselves. Young followers experience the same feelings when they are unable to match the standards their favorite celebs set.
Inadequacy and Comparison
Being constantly exposed to the glamorous lives and appearances of influencers may lead to a sense of inadequacy and comparison among followers. The immaturity factor makes teenagers more susceptible to these feelings.
Body Image Issues
Research establishes that people following social influencers often end up with body image issues. These celebs use filters and photo editing tools to present near-perfect faces and bodies. Youngsters experience body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem due to exposure to these images.
The Authenticity crisis is another dire mental health impact of the social influencer culture. Followers often chase an idealized version of themselves. Over time, the pressure for perfection can lead to emotional and psychological distress.
Last year’s estimates showed that nearly 2000 families are pursuing lawsuits against social media platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram. The numbers are likely to grow in 2023 and beyond. The growing prevalence of the Instagram lawsuit in the US shows the gravity of the situation.
Fortifying Your Defenses
The risk of social media harm through influencers is real for youngsters. Awareness and timely intervention by parents and elders can help teenagers fortify their defenses against the mental effects of the social influencer culture. Here are a few actionable measures to help young people prevent harm:
Education and Awareness
Education and awareness are saviors when it comes to saving youngsters from the banes of the social influencer culture. Parents, schools, and the community should come together to raise awareness about the behind-the-scenes realities. Helping them accept imperfections and diversity should also be a part of the education process.
Boundaries and Self-Care
Establishing healthy boundaries enables teens to be selective about the content they consume. Self-care should also be a priority. It includes practicing self-compassion and seeking support when required.
Besides helping teens deal with the implications of the influencer culture as a parent or elder, it is vital to raise a voice against the risks. Social platforms and influencers should be mandated to follow responsible content creation. Incentives for promoting body positivity, diversity, and mental health awareness can also make a difference.
The rise of social media and influencer culture has made the young generation more image-obsessed than ever. Teenagers may experience mental health issues while chasing perfection and emulating their favorite celebrities. Awareness is the key to understanding the risks and building defenses against them. This comprehensive guide can help on both fronts.