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Practice Management > Marketing and Communications > Social Media

Social Media Posts Make Millennials, Gen Z Feel Broke: Survey

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What You Need to Know

  • Nearly half of millennials and Generation Zers reported negative feelings about their finances from spending time on social platforms.
  • Sixty-four percent of parents surveyed believe social media has contributed to their kids' unrealistic expectations about money.
  • The outcome of impulse purchases on social media was generally negative.

Thirty-four percent of U.S. adults who use social media said they have experienced negative feelings about their finances after reading others’ posts, according to a survey released Monday by They reported feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, anger, shame and anxiety.

Not only that, social media users felt more negativity about their financial situation than about any other aspect of their lives because of others’ posts:

  • Appearance: 32%.
  • Career/professional success: 27%.
  • Home/living situation: 26%.
  • Personal relationships: 25%.
  • Hobbies/interests: 17%. found that social media influences younger generations more than their older counterparts.

Nearly half of millennials and Generation Zers reported negative feelings about their finances from spending time on social platforms, compared with 31% of Gen Xers and 22% of baby boomers.

Younger social media users were also much more likely than older ones to report negative feelings about other aspects of their lives.

Children younger than 18 are also being affected, the survey results showed. Sixty-four percent of parents with younger children who have access to social media believe it has contributed to their unrealistic expectations about money, with male parents more likely than female parents to believe this.

“Younger generations have grown up with social media — or they’ve watched social media grow and evolve with them,” analyst Sarah Foster said in a statement. “But by design, social media is a scrapbook of only the best parts of users’ lives. Every post, picture or update, influences those who are watching to join along in a game of ‘Keeping Up with the Joneses.’”

YouGov Plc conducted the survey in mid-June among 2,664 adults, of whom 2,246 use social media. 

Social Media Siren Call said the problem may stem in part from the fact that a quarter of those active on social media have posted items to make themselves look successful in the eyes of others. Forty-six percent of Gen Zers and 38% of millennials who post on social media admitted doing this, dropping to 17% of Gen Xers and 9% of boomers.

Although social media users may not believe that they are posting with this sort of agenda, 62% said people they follow on social media sometimes post things to make themselves look successful in the eyes of others. Younger social media users were more likely to think this than older ones.

As to what those who post on social media hope their posts will portray, 53% said their values, 47% authenticity, 40% happiness and 38% intelligence.

Only 16% of social media posters hope their posts portray attractiveness, while 10% said wealth/success, including 22% of Gen Zers and 14% of millennials. Eleven percent could not say what they hope their posts will portray.

Social media is also affecting spending habits, according to the survey. Sixty-six percent of Gen Z and 57% of millennials social media users said they had made an impulse purchase of a product they saw on social media, compared with 45% of Gen Xers and 38% of boomers. In addition, more female than male users said they had made an impulse purchase.

The outcome of these purchases was generally negative, according to respondents: 68% of female social media users who have made an impulse purchase of something they saw on social media have regretted at least one purchase, versus 58% of men.

“Social media is essentially the new roadside billboard, only it accomplishes the goal of traditional advertising in a much savvier way,” Foster said. “It decorates seemingly normal, everyday people in the most sought-after vacations, outfits or products.”

But the survey shows that those purchases, especially impulsive ones, can do harm to social media users’ finances rather than benefit their lives in the way they thought it would, she said.


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