Cybersmile Publish Comparison Culture 2023 – A Report Exploring the Impact of Social Media Comparisons on Gen Z

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Author: SCD Team
June 15, 2023

We are proud to announce the launch of Comparison Culture 2023 – a study conducted to learn more about the culture of comparisons among social media users and the profound impact that it is having on Gen Z across the UK.

The Comparison Culture 2023 study asked 1000 participants aged 16-24 across the UK a series of questions relating to social media comparisons and the impact that they have on their wellbeing. Important areas such as mental health, body image, eating habits, relationships, finances, social media and others were explored as part of the research project.

“Cybersmile’s Comparison Culture 2023 survey highlights the profound impact social media can have on how young people aged 16-24 view themselves, with around 9 out of 10 responding that they see themselves negatively and feel dissatisfied with their lives, 3 in 4 wanting to change aspects of their bodies, and a very worrying 1 in 7 having thoughts about ending their lives as a result of comparing themselves with others on social media platforms. More needs to be done to educate people, especially those who are still forming their self-identity, about when and why to engage with such platforms and how to do so safely.”

Dr. Barbara Mariposa, Cybersmile Wellness & Equity Advisor

The study was undertaken to learn about the role and impact that social media has on Gen Z in the context of social comparisons. Findings from Comparison Culture 2023 will be utilized to ensure that Cybersmile continues providing the most useful and effective advice, education and support services possible to those in need.

“The findings from our Comparison Culture 2023 report are terrifying. The stark reality is that although the internet and social media offer many incredible benefits, our research shows that there are huge numbers of people being deeply affected by their time spent online. We will, as an absolute priority, be using this data to develop educational and support solutions related to the growing comparison culture problem in the UK and beyond.”

Dan Raisbeck, Co-founder, The Cybersmile Foundation

Our ongoing commitment to better understand the relationship between humans and technology is supported by an international advisory panel – a team of world-renowned experts in key areas including research, internet safety, mental health, wellbeing, equity, gaming, sports, parenting and youth development.

“Social media is incredible at bringing people together, and giving the under-represented a voice and platform, but it can also be an incredibly fake, curated highlight reel of solely the best parts of our lives. And we often forget that! The ongoing research by Cybersmile brings much needed attention to the challenges young people face in this digital first world. As this Comparison Culture 2023 report highlights, there’s more work to be done to ensure young people feel empowered, protected and supported online which I think starts with content creators taking accountability for promoting unattainable, false standards of perfection.”

Holly H, Cybersmile Ambassador

Regional data gathered as part of the study offers valuable insights and comparisons for major cities across the UK including Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Plymouth, Sheffield and Southampton.

The research was conducted by Censuswide across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with 1,000 general respondents (aged 16-24) who are social media users between 23.05.2023 – 26.05.2023. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles and are members of The British Polling Council.

Insights from the report include:

1. How often do you engage in online comparisons with others, if ever? (comparing our bodies, lives, or lifestyles with people online)

2. In what areas of life do you feel the most pressure to compare yourself to others when online, if any?

3. How do you typically feel after comparing yourself to others online, if any way?

4. What forms of media contribute to you comparing yourself to others, if any?

5. Which negative consequences have you experienced as a result of comparing yourself to others online, if any?

6. How often, if ever, has any content on social media made you feel pressured to be perfect?

7. How often, if ever, have you felt unsatisfied with your life when comparing it to others on social media?

8. Which emotion(s) best describe(s) how you feel/you would feel about other social media users who appear to be happy, wealthy, successful, fit, or beautiful?

9. Which parts of your body has social media made you want to permanently change through surgery, if any?

10. How do/would likes and shares on your social media posts make you feel, if anything?

11. Which social platform, if any, are you most likely to compare yourself to others on?