Mindful following on social media: how our news feed ends up feeding us

Scientists, researchers, psychologists, social media professionals, and parents are looking at social media through a new lens and asking an important question: how can we reduce its toxicity.

With good reason.

Studies show that social media use is attributed to:

- a compromised sense of well-being

- an increase in the likelihood you become depressed

- an increase in negative body image

But one article I read lately shined a light on something tangible social media users can do to reduce the toxicity of social media, particularly for young girls.

The idea was simple: follow people who inspire you.

In this experiment, girls were asked to find and follow four high-achieving women who posted about topics they cared about.

That's it. The girls didn't have to change anything else about their social media habits, use, duration, or apps.

The researchers evaluated their opinions about social media use before and after following the women and assessed the results:

💡First, girls said that their idea of social media was transformed. One girl mentioned it changed her outlook because her feed was filled with people "doing, like, really good things."

💡Second, the exercise changed many girls’ use of social media. Rather than using social media to be social, girls were using it to become inspired.

💡Third, this activity transformed their social media feeds for the better. They began to discover other aspects of topics they were interested in and began to get involved in issues or events in the real world.

Why was this significant?

It emphasizes substance over style.

As parents (I am one, too), we have a responsibility to teach our children how to use these platforms responsibly — doing an exercise such as this allows social media to be a valuable piece of technology, rather than a burden or hindrance to healthy psychological development.