May 25, 2023

The pressure to purchase: How social media is influencing students to buy what they can’t afford

In today’s interconnected world, the power of social media is undeniable. At the tap of a finger, students’ feeds are filled with a wide variety of content. From ads to influencers to posts with friends, social media is a kaleidoscope of experiences and products- many of which may promote students to purchase them.

A new survey from Deloitte found that 51% of students said that social media makes them want to buy things they know they can’t afford

Many students feel the pressure to purchase after seeing a product promoted by their favorite influencer on TikTok or a carefully placed ad on their Instagram feeds. This can result in regrettable impulse buying, stress about finances, and even negative feelings about oneself if one can’t afford to buy something that someone has posted. That’s why it’s more important than ever for students to handle the pressure of social media and remember to not let it define who they are. 

Keep reading to find out how social media is impacting students purchasing behavior and how educators can equip them with the tools they need to navigate their online world:

How social media is impacting students’ buying habits  

The 12th edition of Deloitte’s Gen Z and Millennial Survey revealed interesting insights into the connection between social media and students’ buying habits. In fact, 51% of Gen Z respondents shared that social media makes them want to buy things they can’t afford, even though half of Gen Zs say they live paycheck to paycheck

Posts from friends, influencers, celebrities, and brands that promote certain products are thought to be the driving force behind the pressure to buy something, even when one can’t afford it. Research found that when social media users make an impulse purchase after scrolling, they come to regret it. Despite this, students may feel negatively about their financial situation or like they are missing out on something if they aren’t able to make certain purchases.  

TSI’s Take

Chances are, if you have social media, you’ve seen your fair share of sponsored posts, ads, and trending items. While some of these products may make students’ lives more convenient, and efficient, or even just spark a little joy, other products can end up being a waste of money. It’s important for students to remember this, especially if they are tying their self-worth to whether or not they can afford a new viral product. 

By empowering students to stay true to themselves and purchase things they truly believe will add value to their lives, students can gain the confidence they need to navigate the complicated world of social media. 

In our recent #WinAtSocial LIVE Lesson, Your future, your way: Taking charge of your financial future and mastering money management, students explored many parts of financial literacy and discussed which aspects of finance that they are most curious about. Interestingly, the number one thing students are most interested in when it comes to finance is how they should go about investing their hard-earned money. 

For more ways on how you can support students to manage social media in positive ways through The Social Institute’s Seven Social Standards, check out this blog.

Not a partner but want to run this lesson with your students? Reach out to learn how you can gain access to this lesson and so much more! 

Always stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest trends online by subscribing to our newsletter where we talk about trending tech and social media news weekly! In the meantime, check out our Instagram and TikTok @thesocialinst for tips, trends, and highlights when it comes to social media. 

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in understanding student experiences and creator of #WinAtSocial, a gamified, online learning platform that equips students, educators, and families to navigate social experiences — online and offline — in healthy ways. Our unique, student-respected approach incorporates topics like social media, technology use, and current events that have a significant impact on student well-being. Lessons teach life skills for the modern day to inspire high-character decisions that support the health, happiness, and future success of students, while capturing data that provides insights to school leaders to inform school policy and communications, and enable high-impact teaching and a healthy learning environment. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities.