Leading mental health charity, YoungMinds, together with O2, has today launched the #OwnYourFeed campaign to encourage young people to use social media in ways that are more positive for their mental health and wellbeing.
O2 research shows that 14-24 year-olds are one of the heaviest phone user groups, yet do have a clear understanding of the impact that social media can have on their mental health – with 77% recognising the need for a better relationship with tech and the online world.
Co-created with young people, #OwnYourFeed runs for four weeks in January and will focus primarily on Instagram with a different theme for each week. There will also be a #OwnYourFeed online hub featuring stories and advice from 12 youth ambassadors and tips from O2 Gurus. In the first week young people are encouraged to ‘know’ their feed by thinking about the content they see on their social media, and how it makes them feel. ‘Know your feed’ centres around an interactive quiz that young people can take to find out what kind of social media feed they currently have, and how to make it a more positive place to be. In the following weeks, the campaign encourages young people to ‘clean’ their feed by unfollowing accounts that make them feel worse about themselves, and to build positive relationships with like-minded people.
Tom Madders, Director of Campaigns at YoungMinds, said: “Social media is an everyday part of life for most young people which can offer huge social and emotional benefits. But it can also put a lot of pressure on young people and make them feel worse about themselves, especially if they compare their own lives to the apparently perfect lives that others are leading. If you feel like your life doesn’t match up it can have a negative impact on your mental health.
“Young people tell us that they love being connected with social media and couldn’t be without it, they just want to be able to be online in a positive way. They tell us that sometimes their behaviour on social media and the content they see there can bring them down, but they’re not sure how to work out what’s going wrong, and what they can do to make their online world a better place to be.
“We hope that #OwnYourFeed will help young people to make their social media experience more positive and give them the tips and advice to take control of their online worlds.”
John, 18, YoungMinds activist, says: “I’ve noticed when my mental health hasn’t been so good, that I tend to use social media as a distraction. But I, like many others, will often see things that will make me feel isolated and low. I wasn’t even aware at first how what I saw on online could affect me and how damaging it was to my mental health.
“It can be so easy to let social media take over but it’s really important that you control it rather than the other way around. It can be a really positive tool that can not only help you but allows you to support those around you too. That’s why I’m taking part in #OwnYourFeed to make my social feeds more positive for my mental health.”
Nicola Green, Corporate Affairs Director at O2, said: “We know that young people are very switched on to the impact social media can have on their digital wellbeing and mental health – and as a responsible business we have our part to play in helping them live better with tech. That’s why we’ve teamed up with YoungMinds to launch #OwnYourFeed: sharing our tech know-how to help create a peer-to-peer, youth-led, social campaign that’s all about empowering young people to have a more positive time online.”
Anyone can take part in the campaign by following along with the weekly themes on Instagram:
Think about the content you see on your social media, and how it makes you feel through an interactive quiz. Are you:
Think about what accounts you follow, and how these make you feel. Consider unfollowing or muting things that don’t support your mental health and wellbeing.
Build positive networks of likeminded, supportive people on your social media feeds.
Reach out to friends in a positive way through our 5 Day ‘Say Hey’ Challenge:
For more information about how to take part in #OwnYourFeed and to take the quiz visit www.youngminds.org.uk/ownyourfeed
 The survey was carried out by Populus research for O2 with 1097 representative young people aged 14 and above in 2018.