Social Media has been revolutionary in shaping modern relationships, particularly amongst its’ Gen Z audience. It has become a vital tool in forming social connections that transcend beyond the local plodding ground. It is particularly beneficial to those who live in remote areas; as well as a great way to find and build support networks for individuals who are part of a marginalised group or have debilitating conditions, such as social anxiety.
However, despite the many great attributes and benefits of social media, there are also a lot of negative aspects, most significant being the impact it has on the mental health and wellbeing of individuals. Multiple studies have alarmingly shown a strong link between long-term social media use and an increased risk for depression, anxiety, and even self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Therefore, with this in mind it is refreshing to see that Snapchat is taking steps to build awareness around mental health issues in an attempt to care for the wellbeing of its’ users.
In amongst the vast number of new features coming to Snapchat in 2020 is a set of new wellbeing tools that even include a partnership with the ‘mindful’ company, Headspace. Snapchat has stated that these features have been designed in response to a survey that had found that users tended to turn to their friends first in a time of need, rather than that of their parents or medical professionals. As a result of this feedback Snapchat has announced plans to offer preventative resources which includes an update to the in-app Reporting Tool that allows users to alert Snapchat about concerns over their friend’s mental state. The update will mean that users will now be able to immediately connect with the emergency services, as well as message the crisis text line or talk to the national suicide prevention hotline.
A new mental health tool entitled ‘Here for You’ is going to be added to Snapchat’s built-in search feature. This tool will display safety resources from leading mental health experts when search for specific topics such as, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts and bullying. The ‘Here for You’ hub will also be added directly into the users Snapchat profile, making it even easier for them to access much needed resources. Snapchat is also implementing more safeguarding features including a new safety notification that will prompt users to review their lists of friends and check their privacy settings.
One of the new Snap Mini’s will also be solely based upon educating and helping those struggling with their mental health. Built in conjunction with Headspace, this Snap Mini will provide users with direct access to the meditation and mindfulness services offered by Headspace themselves. This function will be accessible in the chat portion of the app. Another exciting partnership formed by Snapchat is with comedian Kevin Hart who has produced and starred in a new original show for Snapchat’s new Discover content. The series is entitled ‘Coach Kev’ and ran for ten episodes starting in October. The show aimed to demystify mental health as well as offer a thread of positivity to counteract the barrage of negative headlines that have been so prevalent in media this year.
Consequently, it would appear that Snapchat is actively attempting to foster an attentive and more positive digital environment, a notion that is incredibly important considering Snapchats primary users are aged between 12-17 years old. It will be interesting to see how or if competitors such as Instagram and Facebook, intend to follow on from the progress Snapchat has made.
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