The ever-increasing speed of social media growth over the last years has established an entirely new medium for people of all ages to connect. Social media platforms including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook paved the paw for continuous interaction, regardless of where we live and what we do. Today, we spend more time online than ever before with 3.8 trillion hours spent on mobile apps alone, and by 2025 it is projected that social media platforms will have over 4 billion active monthly users, and that’s a lot!
From looking at these numbers alone, it’s clear that social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives that we simply cannot avoid. However, the relationship between social media and mental health is fragile and can easily turn sour when one’s self-perception and validation are tied to online profiles. Social platforms create engagement by exacerbating anxiety and depression and deprive users of sleep and expose them to bullying and create worries about their body image and “FOMO” (“fear of missing out”).
Well, social media companies quiet frequently exploit this, embedding features to trigger these feelings. Many of the social media apps we know use retention tactics which gradually affect our mental health and well-being, encouraging certain types of user behaviors to become more addictive, hence more popular. The incentives being used in many of the social media apps today are not set up in a way to encourage longer-term thinking around the well-being of the person that’s using the product.
This situation has been personally experienced by Michael Sayman, during his tenure at Facebook, building Instagram Stories. Entirely self-taught, Sayman was Facebook’s youngest employee ever, developing features that are now being used by more than half a billion people every day. Sayman pushed Facebook to build Instagram Stories, which soared engagement on the platform across all demographics as millions of Gen Z and millennials flocked to Facebook.
Michael had seen how social media companies used certain tactics purely to increase their user base and engagement, not caring about the mental well-being of millions of teens and adults. He thought there needs to a better way, a friendlier way.
Here is where Friendly Apps come in! Friendly Apps is a consumer social app startup that focuses on building services that help people connect with those they care about in ways that improve their mental health, rather than harm it. Also, it helps people connect and share in ways that are more honest and authentic. Friendly Apps aim to build apps that help people grow, connect, and learn in healthy & friendly ways. Michael Sayman’s ability to engineer products much more effectively and testing early data before exploiting will be key to Friendly Apps’ success.
We’re super excited to be investing $400k in pre-seed round of Friendly Apps alongside BoxGroup, Weekend Fund, Shrug Capital, Day One Ventures, Betaworks Ventures, SRB Ventures, 305 Ventures, and founders and operators from Snap, TikTok, Instagram, Meta, Google, Tesla, Things, and more. As the world tries to figure out the potential negative impacts of heavy social media use, Friendly Apps offers a whole new perspective on mental health and well-being.