Social media was supposed to help connect and inspire us. But the internet is broken, Pinterest says, so let’s fix it.
Pinterest has announced it will sign a call to action for tech companies to make the internet a safer and healthier place, especially for young people.
The Inspired Internet Pledge, created by the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, provides companies with a framework to take meaningful and measurable action to support positive mental and emotional well-being outcomes both online and offline.”
The pledge was conceived in partnership with Pinterest, an image sharing and social media app, and comes as teens experience a mental health crisis across borders.
According to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the mental health of young people continues to deteriorate.
As we saw in the 10 years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health among students in general continues to deteriorate, with more than 40% of high school students feeling so sad or hopeless that they cannot complete their normal activities for at least one year. at least two weeks during the previous year, a possible indication of experiencing depressive symptoms,” reads the report of the CDC’s decennial survey of risk behaviors of young people.
The report also found that in 2021, 16% of high school students were e-bullied through social media websites.
In fact, studies show that excessive passive engagement in social media, such as senseless scrolling through posts, has been associated with harmful outcomes, including feelings of envy and reduced life satisfaction.
Research studies have also indicated a potential connection between social media use and the development of symptoms of ADHD, depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.
I assure you that this mental health crisis is very real and is a global phenomenon, solving it is a global need, said Dr. Michael Rich, founder and director of the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Childrens Hospital, adding that the mental health of young people does not it’s a competition, it’s a mandate.
People, especially teenagers, are actually scrolling as far as they walk every day. That’s about a mile a day [1.6 km]said Bill Ready, CEO of Pinterest, at the announcement of the company’s commitment to the Cannes Lion, a global event for the creative communications and advertising industry.
The reason we chose this stage here to launch this effort is that the people and companies that fund the Internet are the ones who can fundamentally change it, he added.
Putting emotional well-being at the forefront of the industry
By deliberately putting mental health and emotional well-being at the forefront of these efforts, the commitment drives participating companies to address the ongoing mental health crisis with built-in responsibilities, Pinterest said in a statement.
The actions stipulated in the pledge were designed by the Digital Wellness Lab, based on their rigorous research into the positive and negative effects of technology and interactive media on youth.
Signatories are committed to three basic principles including tuning in to wellbeing, listening to user concerns, and committing to transparency.
Rich said they are challenging social media companies to share information about best practices, both about what helps children’s emotional well-being, but also about the worst practices where they feel they have failed.
Each signatory will then create their own supplemental addendum – an additional document or annex to the existing agreement – which is relevant to the reality of their platform. Addendums will be managed by the Digital Wellness Lab and made public to hold signatories accountable for their commitments.
I’m incredibly proud that Pinterest is the first signatory and partner of this pledge,” Ready, the company’s CEO, said in a statement.
“We’re inviting our peers and the industry to join us in this effort to create more positive wellbeing outcomes for youth. We need to do this together. To build a better internet for better selves, emotional wellbeing must be a real outcome, measurable, and the standard for the entire industry.”
Several major social media companies, including Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, are also looking into the pledge, a source close to Instagram told Euronews Next.
The relationship between technology use and mental health is complex and nuanced, Rich said.
This reality has created “a responsibility and opportunity for technology companies to create a healthier Internet that will help young people build a positive sense of self and a productive relationship with technology.”
It’s possible to have a secure internet for future generations, “but it has to be designed by the tech industry, and users have to be educated and empowered to use it in ways that are healthier, smarter, and kinder to each other,” he said. . added.
“Vote with your dollars and euros and demand better wellness outcomes through social media. This industry needs accountability,” Ready added.
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