Why Startups Should Fight The Social Media Addiction

Startups play a vital role across all industries, fuelling the global landscape with fresh innovation and creativity. Yet, amidst rising concerns like mental health challenges and digital dependencies, there’s an argument to be made that startups dedicated to addressing these pressing issues are more important now than ever.

Of course, there has already been a lot of activity in this space. Where traditional avenues for health and wellness guidance were once limited to visiting a doctor or enjoying a refreshing outdoor stroll, there’s now a vast expanse of companies advising on how people can nurture their well-being.

In this regard, innovating ways to combat mobile phone addiction is crucial, given its association with numerous mental health and wellness dilemmas.

Social Media and Mental Health

Social media is great for several reasons. It can provide entertainment, a means to socialise, let us keep an eye on what our friends are doing, and allow us to share our lives with a creative touch.

Unfortunately, it’s for these very same reasons that it can badly affect our mental health.

Designed to captivate users, social media platforms leverage techniques to keep us glued to our screens. The dopamine rush from engaging in content fuels a cycle of satisfaction and craving for more, and the ability to endless scroll, perpetuated by autoplay features, means we are kept going from one piece of content to the next.

Social media apps can also offer a plethora of ways to facilitate your social life and engage with others. On these apps, you can see what other people are up to, message and video call friends, like content and virtually follow people, the list goes on.

Such comprehensive social platforms can inadvertently detract from real-world relationships and activities, fostering isolation and even discouraging us from being active. Moreover, being able to monitor people so closely via social media can breed anxiety and diminish self-esteem, contributing to depression and overall mental strain.

Social media can also prime breeding ground for cyberbullying, providing a virtual realm where people feel they can get away with things without repercussions.

Despite growing awareness of these detrimental effects excessive screen time can cause, many still find it challenging to break free from digital dependency.

Thankfully, innovative startups and businesses are emerging to combat this trend, offering solutions to mitigate the mental health risks associated with prolonged mobile phone usage.

How Startups Are Redefining Mobile Dependency

In recent years, terms like wellness tech and the health and wellness market have surged into the limelight. Indeed, it’s often difficult to escape these labels, having become ubiquitous in today’s commercial landscape.

This surge can be attributed, in part, to the success of businesses dedicated to mental health and well-being. Individuals are increasingly seeking alternatives outside traditional healthcare systems, turning to the personalised solutions that companies and mobile apps can provide.

In this regard, most people will have heard of platforms such as BetterHelp, Calm and Headspace, but this merely scratches the surface of this burgeoning industry. The expansive wellness market now provides individuals with vast accessible, personalised, and often cost-effective solutions to enhance their well-being.

From mobile therapy apps to the rise of various ‘wellness tech’ wearables and gadgets that can track your sleep, heart rate, and stress levels among other things, the mental health and wellness market not only offers endless avenues for individuals to explore ways to help their well-being, this it has become a highly lucrative market.

As a highly lucrative and expanding space, this market has become fertile ground for startups to innovate. Companies are scrambling to find niches to fill, whether this is through developing even personalised mental health plans or creating even more affordable gadgets to monitor health and well-being.

Just a quick look at the successful and emerging startups in this domain reveals how they are reshaping the mental health and wellness landscape.

For instance, Lyra Health, founded in 2015 and widely considered to be one of the most successful startups in the space, can provide members with a so-called ‘personalised mental health experience’. This spans from self-guided programs and therapy sessions to in-person and video conferencing care.

While not exclusively targeting mobile phone dependency, Lyra Health’s services may help its members deal with mental health issues exacerbated by mobile phone usage, such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and sleep disturbances.

Other startups are more specifically dedicated to fighting our mobile phone dependency.

Hoop, for instance, is a tech startup whose focus is to get kids into healthy activities and away from TV screens, computer screens, social media, and online gaming. The mobile app does this by encouraging kids to do activities that improve their mental health and reduce obesity.

Other startups focus on providing incentives and activities to draw your attention away from your mobile phone screen and towards other activities.

Moreover, startups like Swyno and Firth Flock Flowers encourage individuals to disconnect from social media and engage in real-world activities, reflecting a broader shift towards mindfulness and offline interactions.

Swyno does this by encouraging young people to take a break from social media and immerse themselves in bilingual literature, whereas Firth Flock Flowers encourages people to reconnect with the real world through in-person floristry classes.

Whatever the solutions startups in this space are engaging in, the wider mental health market is only predicted to grow.

Business Wire has predicted that the global mental wellness market will reach $150 billion by 2028, underscoring the potential for startups in this space to thrive.

But despite the market’s success, the question remains: Has this translated into improved mental health globally? Let’s take a closer look.

The Fight For Mental Health

In the ongoing battle for our mental health, where the temptation of social media contends against our focus and well-being, who will emerge victorious?

The aforementioned startups provide examples of some of the innovative and creative strategies being devised to detach people from their phones and prioritise their mental health. From offering incentives to get you out of the digital realm and into the real world to providing therapy and care to those who are struggling, these startups lead the charge in promoting mental health and well-being.

Nevertheless, reflecting on data from recent years demonstrates how we are still struggling to win the fight for our mental health and well-being.

In 2020, our global mental health took a massive blow thanks to the pandemic. According to Forbes, the number of anxiety and depressive disorders surged during, and in the wake of, the pandemic.

The publication states that: “Depressive symptoms grew from a base of about 193 million people worldwide to 246 million” and “Anxiety disorders grew from about 298 million people affected to 374 million, which is about a 25% increase.” A staggering rise.

Since this time, record investment has been made into the mental health and wellness market. But has this surge in funding made a dent in these statistics?

Regrettably, recent findings paint a grim picture.

According to Action for Children, as of 2023, one in six children aged 5-16 were likely to have a mental health problem – a figure that has increased by 50% in the last three years. While this was partly due to the pandemic and other issues like school and financial worries, the organisation also singled out social media as a root cause for mental health issues in young people.

In August 2023, The Guardian also reported that NHS data unveiled a record high in children experiencing mental health crises in England.

Despite the valiant efforts of startups in this domain, which have undoubtedly aided millions worldwide, these stats show that there’s still much ground to cover, especially among vulnerable young populations vulnerable to pressures such as social media.

Looking ahead, one can only hope that startups will persist in championing novel approaches to mental health. Perhaps we’ll witness a surge in startups dedicated to providing accessible and cost-effective solutions tailored to young people, fortifying the global fight for mental health where it’s needed most.