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When Gigi Hadid steps out anywhere, she knows it’s going to be a media circus of flashing lights and camera clicks, so if the supermodel wants to make her point loud and clear she is well aware of how to gain such attention.

The blonde beauty, who has been vocal about her stance on social media having taking long breaks from the social platforms in the past, walked out in front of paparazzi carrying her phone in a tiny bag, with a warning sticker on her red phone case.

The case, from Urban Sophistication reads “Social media seriously harms your mental health,” and according to its description on the site it is a reminder that Social media posts can set unrealistic expectations and create feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

While it is unclear whether the statement set out to act as exactly that- a statement, or just Hadid’s own personal reminder of the dangers of the internet, it has completed the job of both and did not go unnoticed.

Ciarán Austin from the National Office for Suicide Prevention in Ireland highlights how the internet and social media are increasingly becoming a more substantial part of everyday life.

“We now have at our disposal, tools and platforms to connect, share, learn and converse at so many different levels, in real-time,” he said.

“This unbridled level of connectedness, will at times leave us exposed to harmful, upsetting or dangerous content. This can understandably have a negative impact on our mental health, in particular causing higher levels of anxiety, poor self-esteem or affect our relationships with those closest to us,” he continued.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 15: Gigi Hadid is seen on March 15, 2018 in New York City.  (Photo by MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 15: Gigi Hadid is seen on March 15, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

However, Austin said that this doesn’t have to always be the case stating that they welcome the fact that all the major social media platforms have significantly invested in empowering users, and making their spaces safer, more responsible communities.

The authors of a recent Facebook blogpost, Director of Research, David Ginsberg and Research scientist at Facebook, Moira Burke, acknowledged that ‘passive’ consumption of material online can make people ‘feel worse’, but argued that more engagement could improve well-being.

“In sum, our research and other academic literature suggests that it’s about how you use social media that matters when it comes to your well-being,” they said.

Echoing the blogpost, Austin said we all need to invest time to learn more about filtering, blocking, moderation, settings and privacy.

“The internet and social media can be forces for good. But, it is always advisable to keep your online activity and usage levels in check, stay safe and make a conscientious effort to ensure all the connections you have with have with others, are meaningful and helpful for your mental health,” he concluded.

However, studies continue to find that Facebook and all the other social media sites can have a damaging effect on the mental and emotional wellbeing of users, especially younger people.

A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey, according to the blogpost.

“Though the causes aren’t clear, researchers hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison, and perhaps even more so than offline, since people’s posts are often more curated and flattering.”

This comes after the string of controversy in the blogging and influencer industry in Ireland where social media influencers were called out publically on their altered images which were deemed as unattainable and negative influences on their followers well-being.

On the other hand, the Facebook blogpost referred to an experiment at Cornell, where stressed college students were randomly assigned to scroll through their own Facebook profiles for five minutes.

As this resulted in boosts in self-affirmation compared to students who looked at a stranger’s Facebook profile, it reflects the idea that how we use these platforms really does impact how they affect our well-being.

 

Katie Gallagher

Image credit: Jezzebel & Hello Giggles