Dove pushes for legislation to limit kids exposure to toxic beauty content in new campaign

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 13-Apr-2023

The brand’s Campaign for Kids Online Safety addresses children's mental health issues linked to social media and pushes for regulation to make platforms safer

Dove has launched a campaign pushing for legislation to protect children’s self-esteem and wellbeing from “harmful” social media posts. 

The Campaign for Kids Online Safety is being driven by the beauty brand’s Dove Self-Esteem Project, which teaches young people about body confidence and self-esteem. 

The initiative aims to address the rise in kids' mental health issues linked to social media and is calling for platforms to make these spaces more “positive” via safer design. 

The Unilever-owned brand has also partnered with singer Lizzo and non-profit organisations Common Sense Media and ParentsTogether Action to try and advance the 2023 Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). 

The bill supports updating social media design standards, safeguards and tools to better protect kids' overall experiences online and limit their exposure to toxic beauty content. 

It also outlines the need for more transparency on design and black box algorithms, including disabling addictive product features and opt-out of algorithmic recommendations.

KOSA also requires platforms to perform annual independent audits to assess risks to minors.

Currently, eight in ten youth mental health specialists say social media is fueling a mental health crisis, reported the beauty brand. 

"Dove has a long term commitment to bringing positive change in beauty and taking action towards making social media a more positive place,” said Alessandro Manfredi, Chief Marketing Officer for Dove. 

“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.

"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."

Why is Dove addressing this issue now? 

More than 50% of young people said social media makes them and their peers feel anxious, according to the Dove Self-Esteem Project’s research for the Campaign for Kids Online Safety. 

Seven in ten aged 10 to 17 have been exposed to content encouraging weight loss and body transformation on social media. 

More than half (51%) of those aged 14 to 17 have been exposed to content encouraging restricted eating or disordered eating behaviours too. 

A staggering 80% of young people also believe that people their age are addicted to social media. 

Dove partnered with data consultancy Edelman DXI to conduct an online survey with children in the USA, UK and Canada between January and February 2023. 

The beauty brand surveyed 1,318 girls, 556 boys, 1,520 parents, 4,046 of the general population and 154 youth mental health specialists in total.

Dove launched its Self-Esteem Project in 2004 and has educated more than 94 million kids globally about body positivity and self-esteem over the past 19 years. 

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