Recent Design Concepts Alleviate Problems Associated With Social Networking

Social media is known to cause or exacerbate symptoms of depression and loneliness in web users. Find out how design can help relieve these conditions.

In the early noughties, once broadband speeds became fast enough for users to access the Internet without intense irritation, social media platforms started cropping up and encouraged users from all over the globe to interact with each other. Some of the earliest social media networks that were popular included MySpace, LinkedIn and of course Facebook which were all launched between 2002 and 2004. Since then, the world has adapted to this ground-breaking phenomenon with mixed results.

On the plus side, social media users are able to connect with friends, family and loved ones across the world with ease. Job-seekers keep abreast of the latest recruitment opportunities and companies can engage better with consumers, understanding their needs and listening to the voices of the public to solve problems. However, social media undoubtedly has its disadvantages too.

Cyberbullying And Damage To Mental Health
Recent research conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health revealed that platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat can all have detrimental effects on the mental health of young people in particular. Results from the group of 1,500 16-24 year olds that were surveyed, found that these networks contributed to cyberbullying and body image issues, as well as anxiety, depression and loneliness. Those using Instagram were more likely to experience these negative effects.

  • However, graphic designers have worked to create a new design initiative made up of eight concepts which are found to decrease these harmful influences and allow social media users to focus entirely on harnessing the positives that this type of interaction creates. These concepts include:
  • Activity Tracking – similar to a Fitbit, this monitor pays attention to how often people use social media, to keep usage within a healthy range.
  • Mindful Algorithm – this feature considers the sensitivity and relevance of a piece of content before posting it on a user feed.
  • Profile Health – a traffic light symbol rating system that is similar to those used for food labelling. Photo editing and tone of voice would be considered before deciding whether a profile is safe to view or not.
  • Intelligent Coaching – this important component picks up on the first signs of depression.
  • Inner Circle – this prioritises posts from a select network of close friends
  • Smart Notifications – if you want to control the addictiveness of social media, you can snooze social media notifications temporarily.
  • Free Your Focus – random ideas for alternative constructive activities pop up to help decrease unhealthy scrolling.
  • Safe Feed – customise your phone settings to display only appropriate types of social profiles.

Positive Industry Feedback
These clever design initiatives have received positive feedback when revealed to charities such as CALM which is the Campaign Against Living Miserably. Although there are no plans to develop these specific concepts at present, it is likely that they will be used as the foundations for further products and ideas. We can’t ignore the impact that the negative side-effects of social media have on mental health, so if there are tangible ways to relieve some of these issues, then it is important that design plays a role in helping those in need.

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