Students are feeling more pressure than ever to be perfectionists — and social media may be to blame

I found this an interesting article, because one of the biggest barriers to youth job search success is procrastination and fear of failure. This articles coverage of the social impact of social media on youth expectations and self-assessment is profound. Working with University students, we have found students have a hesitation and resistance to invest time in their employability at critical points in their academic life. For many the excuse is to maximize their marks, but at the expense of building out their employability plan and active efforts in job search before graduation when the best firms are recruiting. This “perfectionist” theme might be the cause behind the effect. So if you are a student graduating this year, don’t let your fear of failure or imperfection hold you back from starting now to look for your career job after graduation. can help with a free account.

New research suggests a desire to be perfect is causing more mental health issues among young students

College students are trying harder than ever to be perfectionists — and social media may be to blame.

A study of Canadian, British and American students found that today’s college graduates feel greater societal pressure to be perfect than previous generations.

One reason could be pressure stemming from popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where the goal is to curate a perfect public image. This leads to social perfectionism — defined as a perceived expectation from others — and is considered the most debilitating form of perfectionism.

Young adults feel they must live up to certain standards based on what they see on social media, which, according to the study, “can intensify one’s own body image concerns and sense of social alienation.”

The thing with perfectionism is that it’s fine when things are going well, but when things go wrong, then it’s catastrophic

“These findings suggest that recent generations of college students have higher expectations of themselves and others than previous generations,” said Dr. Thomas Curran, co-author of the study, in a statement. “Today’s young people are competing with each other in order to meet societal pressures to succeed and they feel that perfectionism is necessary in order to feel safe, socially connected and of worth.”

But the rise in perfectionism coincides with a rise in serious mental illness among young people, said Curran. He described the need to be perfect as a “hidden epidemic” that could potentially underpin many of the mental health issues students face, ranging from anxiety to depression.

“The thing with perfectionism is that it’s fine when things are going well, but when things go wrong — maybe we don’t get that perfect sense of self or we don’t get as many likes as we thought we were going to get — then that’s catastrophic,” he said. “Perfection is contingent on ourselves and on gaining other’s approval, so when we fail we feel miserable about ourselves.”

The perception of school has also changed over the last few decades, which could further explain the drive for perfection. The study noted that in the past, school was associated with a desire to learn and develop new skills. But today, those skills and knowledge were deemed useless unless they provided some sort of economic value in return — if a student didn’t score a high-paying job after school, they had failed.

The authors of the study say it is one of the first to look at how the phenomena of perfectionism has changed over time. Researchers used the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale that determines a person’s sense of perfection based on three different measures: socially prescribed, self-oriented (unrealistic expectations of oneself), and other-oriented (unrealistic expectations of others).

The researchers analyzed studies carried out between 1989 and 2016, where college and university students in Canada, Britain and the United States had completed the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale. They found socially prescribed perfectionism increased by 33 per cent, other-oriented increased by 16 per cent and self-oriented increased by 10 per cent.

But culture might also be affecting parents and adding to the rise of perfectionists.

“Culture is potentially changing the way that parents are behaving,” said Curran. “Because of the pressure kids are under, parents also feel pressure because they want their kids to be successful. It’s not just the kids problem, it’s the parents problem. too.”

The result? More strict, anxious and overly controlling parents, which Curran believes is contributing to young adults feeling the pressure to be perfect.

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