Business Categories Reports Podcasts Events Awards Webinars
Contact My Account About

KOSA: Dove’s Legislation to Protect Youths on Social Media

Published April 20, 2023
Published April 20, 2023

The dangers of social media have been hotly discussed as of late. One of the most concerning topics is social media's impact on self-esteem. According to recent research conducted by Dove's Self-Esteem Project, 76% of young people in the US say social media makes them want to change their appearance, and eight out of 10 youth mental health specialists agree that social media is fueling a mental health crisis among younger generations.

Dove's social media impact research also found that:

  • 80% of young people believe that people their age are addicted to social media.
  • More than 50% of young people say social media makes them and their peers feel anxious.
  • Seven in 10 young people (ages 10-17) have been exposed to content encouraging weight loss / body transformation.
  • 51% of young people (ages 14-17) have been exposed to content encouraging restricted eating or disordered eating behaviors.
  • Over half of youth mental health specialists say exposure to harmful beauty content on social media can lead to physical consequences like disordered eating or self-harm.
  • Over half (58%) of American parents believe the only way to get social media platforms to change is to implement legislation in the space.

In response to this research, the Dove Self-Esteem Project has partnered with its brand ambassador Lizzo, Common Sense Media, and ParentsTogether Action to advance legislation surrounding social media safety for children. Dove believes that progress needs to be made more quickly when it comes to protecting children online, and as part of its collaboration with Common Sense Media and ParentsTogether Action, the beauty brand has put forward the 2023 Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). The KOSA bill outlines more transparency across social media design including:

  • Giving parents the ability to disable addictive product features and opt out of algorithmic recommendations.
  • Requiring social media platforms to prevent and mitigate content that harms minors, such as content promoting self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, and sexual exploitation.
  • Requiring social media platforms to perform an annual independent audit assessing risks to minors.
  • Providing experts access to critical data to foster research regarding harm to the safety and well-being of minors.

"Over the past decade, we have witnessed a youth mental health crisis—skyrocketing suicide rates, hospitalizations for self-harm, and depression among children and teens," says Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. "Real change requires partnership, advocacy, and a commitment to do the work on the ground. We are proud to partner with Dove to advance our mission to require platforms to make safety the default and ensure social media is a safer place for today's generation."

To increase awareness of the risks of social media for young people and call on lawmakers to back the bill, the Dove Self-Esteem Project hosted A Call for Kids Online Safety: A Forum for Change. This live event brought together voices of authority in ethical technology and youth mental health, including digital media expert Dr. Safiya U, Stanford psychiatrist and social design expert, Dr. Nina Vasa, and Jim Steyer. The event encouraged children and their parents to share their stories, with support from brand ambassador Lizzo. The live stream was published on Dove US YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok channels.

The campaign is not the first time Dove has worked with Lizzo to promote self-esteem among young people. In 2021, the singer and body activist worked alongside Dove for its Reverse Selfie campaign. The campaign encouraged parents to have the "Selfie Talk" with their children, providing the Selfie Talk and New Confidence Kit, with advice on topics including how to detoxify platform feeds to help them educate their children on the risks and pressures of social media. The campaign also saw Dove introduce the “No Digital Distortion" mark for its advertisement images, reassuring consumers that no photos marketed by the brand are ever retouched.

"Social media is supposed to be a place where people can express themselves and be a source for beauty, confidence, not anxiety; that's why I'm partnering with Dove again and calling on platforms to do more to make social media safe for young people," Lizzo says. "Seeing the negative impact social media is having on youth mental health today is devastating and has to stop. Join us and use your voice to help make change."

To further showcase the Campaign for Kids Online Safety, Dove also released a film in collaboration with experts at National Alliance for Eating Disorders and Project HEAL. The Cost of Beauty: A Dove Film tells the true story of a young person whose mental health has been impacted by social media usage. In the video, a young girl named Mary is seen following strict diet rules due to what she has seen on social media; as the video progresses, it becomes apparent that Mary has been admitted to the hospital due to her health plummeting because of an eating disorder. A statement then reads: "The cost of toxic beauty content is greater than we think." The end of the video shows several other children in recovery from a list of mental health conditions, including body dysmorphia, anxiety, and depression, and urges viewers to sign the petition to pass KOSA.

The Cost of Beauty: A Dove Film

"Dove has a long-term commitment to bringing positive change in beauty and taking action towards making social media a more positive place with campaigns like #NoDigitalDistortion, Reverse Selfie/Selfie Talk, and #DetoxYourFeed. While certain aspects of social media can promote creativity and connection for young people, data has shown toxic content online is harming the mental health of today's youth. If there isn't real change, young people will continue to pay with their wellbeing." explains Alessandro Manfredi, Chief Marketing Officer for Dove. "We have a responsibility to act and support a safer environment on social media, helping protect young people's mental health. This means going beyond individual interventions to drive systemic change."

Although social media has several benefits for the beauty industry, with apps such as Instagram and TikTok having the power to make a brand viral overnight, it is clear that the risks such platforms pose to younger generations can be extremely severe. As Dove advocates for legislation addressing social media safety concerns, it is the duty of beauty brands universally to market content in transparent ways, declare the retouching of images, and create campaigns that uplift consumers as opposed to preying on their insecurities.


2 Article(s) Remaining

Subscribe today for full access