Embracing You…

this campaign is about social media and its impact on identity, and the focus of the campaign is how social media affects our target audience between the of ages 18-25 years old, especially the Gen Zs. The concern is that the belief system of some Gen Zs are being negatively affected by social media, hence the name of the campaign title Embracing You.  The overall objective of the campaign is to help this age group find a balance between their belief system and social media and to convince them that identity, happiness, and success come from within and not from social media.

The campaign deliverables include media releases, public service announcements, a targeted public engagement, a targeted published social media platform. So far the campaign managers populate an Instagram page with videos and positive quotes. We expect to gain more traction by continually engaging the audience and posting fresh and related information while monitoring the page and responding to comments.

The campaign has four key messages. The first message is to love your body, love yourself essentially embracing who you are, the second message is think twice before you speak and treat others the way you want to be treated, the third message is you are beautiful just the way you are, the fourth message is check yourself before you wreck yourself. These messages are designed to inspire positive actions, love and acceptance within themselves. This campaign aims to have a positive impact on the lives of Caribbean youth.

Social media has been a dominant influence in the world over the past decade and is transcending rapidly with the different social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snap chat and Tik Tok, and people of all age groups are spending countless hours on these social networking sites. These platforms are not only providing connectivity with people all over the world but also generating income from the creation of online businesses that are driven by likes and popularity. These are called Bloggers, Vloggers, Podcasters, and Youtubers.  Most companies are capitalizing on this by advertising and promoting their product on services on these platforms because it allows access to more customers. Social media facilitates greater connectivity, more voices, more comments, more images, and lavish lifestyles being posted on the various social media platforms. As the Jamaican saying goes, ‘the best thing since slice bread’.


The image of the perfect body. Photo contributed by Pexels.com

With the positives comes the negative side of social media that is being overshadowed by the benefits, especially for the younger generation who is immersed in social media. It is being fiercely debated that social media is addictive just like any drug and the term that is used to describe this is called Digital Cocaine, which means addiction to electronic devices. The Gen Zs are spending excessive hours on the different social media platforms and some of them are dedicating at least 7 hours a day on social media.  They are scrolling through the various platforms viewing the perfect pictures, perfect bodies, and the expensive lifestyles. The reality is that most of what is being posted on social media is not a true reflection of most people’s lifestyles. There is the constant fear of missing out (FOMO) which has led to the obsession of trying to keep up with what is being posted on social media as this is now the standard of success and happiness for Gen Zs.

The perfect image of beauty. Is it real or filtered? That’s the magic question. Photo contributed by Pexels.com

Let’s talk about the perfect image of beauty and lavish lifestyles flooding the different social media platforms which in reality are mostly false and unattainable. You have filters on the different platforms that can adjust your features to give you the ideal look of beauty to the extreme that it does not look like you. This is what the Gen Zs are up against and are using these tools to adjust their features to become popular like the influencers and celebrities. Not to mention the images of the expensive lifestyles that some persons can afford but also the other social media users are faking their lifestyles which is based on deception. There is a compulsion for this generation to keep up with what is being posted on social media and some are going into debt to keep up with this fake lifestyle, hence keeping up with the Joneses has reached to an explosive level.

Studies have shown that this generation suffers from anxiety and depression, because of the constant comparison of their lives to social media. There is also the dangers of social media challenges that has resulted in the death some of these young people. There is also cyberbullying that has caused some of them to delete their accounts and even thinking of committing suicide.

According to an article dated the July 26, 2019 on the Website of Wharton University of Pennsylvania, it posited that ‘there is an addictive quality to social media, and that is a serious issue, and what makes it particularly addictive is that it is adaptive. It adjusts based on your preferences and behaviors, that makes it both more useful and engaging and interesting, and more addictive’.

This article also documented “a recent University of Pennsylvania study which makes the case that limiting the use of social media can be a good thing. Researchers looked at a group of 143 Penn undergraduates, using baseline monitoring and randomly assigning each to either a group limiting Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat use to 10 minutes per platform per day, or to one told to use social media as usual for three weeks. The results, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, showed significant reductions in loneliness and depression over three weeks in the group limiting use compared to the control group. However, “both groups showed significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out over baseline, suggesting a benefit of increased self-monitoring,” wrote the authors of “No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression.”

The many voices of social media causing anxiety. Photo contributed by Pexels.com

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) established a U-Report in Jamaica on the 22 May, 2018. This is a social messaging tool designed to give Jamaican youths a greater voice on issues of national importance. Jamaica became the first Caribbean country to launch the U-Report joining a Global movement of over 13 million U-Reporters.

A U-Report Poll on Mental Health and Social Media was conducted in Jamaica on August 27, 2018, the results indicated that “approximately 47% of about 902 respondents said that social media had a significant impact on youth mental health and 53% said it did not impact their mental health while 87% of 807 respondents did not think that their reputation on social media matters more than their reputation in real life, and 13% said it did matter, about 86 percent of 798 respondents said that social media had the potential to be a toxic environment and 14% did not believe it had the potential to be toxic.

As it relates to the amount of time spent on social media, approximately 44% of the 791 respondents said they used social media for about 0-5 hours per day, while 27% of the respondents said they used social media for 6-10 hours per day”.

When you examine these findings it shows that 71% of the respondents spend no less than 105 hours per week on social media, which amounts to 420 hours a month on the different social media platforms. This is a considerable amount of time to be spending on social media that can be toxic to the younger generation’s health.


Addicted to social media. Checking social media the first before getting out of bed. Photos contributed by Pexels.com

There is no doubt about the many benefits of social media in terms of greater connectivity and the numerous online business opportunities which have generated income for savvy users, however, we cannot deny the potential negative impact on Caribbean youth. The relevant bodies in Jamaica, like the Ministry Health & Wellness and the Jamaica Psychological Society need to do further research on the negative impact of social media on the younger generation and to implement programmes to help them navigate the pitfalls of social media.