8 May 2023

Dove and Mental Health Europe call for a safer social media environment to protect children’s mental health

While social media can foster creativity and connection, it is also one of the biggest threats to young people’s mental health today.  New research from the Dove Self-Esteem Project reveals over 8 in 10 kids are exposed to toxic beauty content on social media.

The new 2023 Dove Self Esteem Project Research for Kids Online Safety found:


  • Over 9 in 10 youth mental health specialists say social media is fuelling a mental health crisis among young people.
  • More than 50% of kids say social media makes them and their peers feel anxious.


In the EU, the Digital Services Act (DSA) was passed in 2022 to create a safer digital space.  This legislation is a big step forward. However, national legislators are not expected to start action until February 2024.


The DSA requires all providers of services likely to be accessed by or to affect children to uphold their rights, undertake child impact assessments and mitigate systemic risks to children’s rights based on statutory standards.


Through advocacy and awareness-raising activities, Dove and MHE will push to prioritise legislation at the national level across the European Union that advocates for new design standards that will reduce the harmful content young people are exposed to online. This includes:


  • Requiring online platforms to include trigger warnings for sensitive content featuring self-harm or eating disorders.
  • Prohibiting targeted advertising based on involuntary tracking.
  • Designing digital services that cater to the needs of children and young people by default.


MHE has launched a Petition on Change.org, together with Dove, to demand national legislators make social media a healthier, safer experience for children and young people. Together, we can protect our young people’s mental health.

Sign the petition to help prioritise the implementation of the Digital Services Act

Stand up for Kids Online Safety: Dove Self-Esteem Project


Sensitive content: This film features real stories about body appearance that may be upsetting to some viewers.



To raise awareness and inspire collective action to make social media safer, watch below Dove’s new film: Cost of Beauty: A Dove Film.


The film explores the real-life consequences of harmful beauty content and offers a glimpse into the lives of young people who are coming of age with social media.



If you are or someone you know is looking for support, you can find a list of national care lines at mentalhealtheurope.org/library/youth-helplines/.

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