48% of Gen Z Say Social Media Makes Them Feel Anxious, Sad or Depressed

58% Are “Seeking Relief” from Social Media

Updated Study Reveals More Surprising Implications for Marketers

BOSTON--()--Hill Holliday, through its independent consumer and business insights research group, ORIGIN, has released an updated research study about Generation Z and its attitudes and behaviors surrounding social media. The results show a steady acceleration in trends reported in the agency’s original 2017 study.

The complete study, and the original 2017 report, can be found at http://thinking.hhcc.com/

Aged 18-25, “Gen Z” is the first true generation of “social natives.” They have been the frequent subject of study around always-on media consumption, but less has been written about the impact of social media on Gen Z’s emotional outlook and consumer behavior. Are they seeking relief from constant social media? How does it affect their emotions and psychology? And how do these attitudes impact purchase behavior?

Intended to serve as a follow-up to the 2017 findings, the new study surveyed 998 members of Gen Z, maintaining an equivalent sample composition in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity.

Among the most compelling findings:

Even more Gen Z’ers are thinking about quitting social media

  • 61% are taking a break from social media
  • 24% consider quitting because of negative self-esteem (up from 17% in 2017)

An increase in negative psychological impact

  • 48% of Gen Z say social media makes them feel anxious, sad or depressed
  • 27% report experiencing a negative impact on body image (up from 18% in 2017)

Positive outcomes result when they reduce social media use

  • 30% report feeling less stressed or anxious (up from 24% in 2017)
  • 25% report improved self-esteem (up from 16% in 2017)

“Frankly, we’d hoped after the findings of our first study that some of Gen Zers, including our own friends and colleagues, would retreat from social media overload,” said Lesley Bielby, Chief Strategy Officer of Hill Holliday. “In fact, the opposite has happened. While they recognize the potential negative impact and the need to limit time spent, they can’t seem to unplug. It seems the hope for human interaction IRL with Gen Z may be lost.”

About Hill Holliday
Fighting the daily share battle in the noisiest categories. It’s what we do. Hill Holliday is proud to be one of the top creative marketing agencies in the country, with more than 500 employees across our network. Since 1968, we’ve built our business on winning that daily share battle for our clients in the most competitive categories. Blending superior creative, media, and technology, we deliver game-changing ideas for such industry leaders as Bank of America, Party City, Capella University, Optum, Boar’s Head, Simple Mobile, Novartis, Cracker Barrel and Frontier Communications. For more about our people, our work, and our culture, please visit www.hhcc.com.


Austin Gardner-Smith
Hill Holliday

Release Summary

Following its 2017 report, Hill Holliday has released an updated research study about Generation Z's attitudes and behaviors surrounding social media


Austin Gardner-Smith
Hill Holliday