Project Summary

Providing young adults the tools and resources to foster a healthier social media experience

In collaboration with Deloitte Digital (Doblin), my fellow team member and I at the School of Visual Arts MFA Interaction Design program created a solution to aid in making social media more socially responsible. Guided by our exploratory research into a wide array of problems, we reimagined what [a small corner of] social media might look like through a health-conscious lens.

My Role
  • Stakeholder Communication
  • Conducted user interviews
  • Insight synthesis to design
  • Storyboarding solution
  • Low & high-fidelity wireframes
  • Solution video editing

Awanee Joshi, Hillary Soletic


Doblin, Deloitte


15 Week (SEP - DEC 2021)


Roger Madder, Criswell Lappin, Darshana Nair, Julius Tapper

Social Media Negatively Impacting Mental Health

In light of the recent Facebook exposé, as well as other whistleblower reports, the harmful mental health impacts of social media on teenagers and young adults have become undeniably troubling. The companies responsible have not done enough (and not quickly enough) in reaction to the issues they openly acknowledge.

of 18 to 29 year olds use at least one social media platform
18 to 29 year olds report mental illness. These groups report high social media usage.
That 25% accounts for
4.99M people
How might we help social media companies be socially responsible for the wellbeing of their users?

Solution Summary Video

A set of plugins that can be integrated into multiple social media platforms – granting users the option to opt in and take control in counteracting the harmful mental health effects without altering the original user experience of the platform.

Vision vs Scope

Through our research, we learned about many problems and concerns which we funneled into the following categories. Our approach is to provide features that address these problems all of which are relevant across platforms. They would fit seamlessly into the platform that users are already familiar with.

Focus: Body Image

Because the scope of this issue is so vast, we decided to zero in on 'Mental Health', specifically Body Image, on Instagram in order to showcase our solution.
negatively compare their bodies to images they consume on social and traditional media
Body Image Plugins

“Instagram knows so much about me, but I don’t know that much about it.”

01. Know your usage

View your breakdown of categories to better understand who you are following.

“Social media teaches us to be social and anti-social at the same time. There are just so many ways it affects our lives”

02. See your plugins

This new icon houses all of your wellbeing plugins.

“I don't want to unfollow my friends but I also don't want to see certain parts of their lives.”

03. Curate your newsfeed

Personalize your plugin's settings to best fit your desired viewing experience on your newsfeed.

“These Instagram influencers always look so good, but it’s not necessarily always true. Sometimes they photo edit their pictures.”

04. Filter transparency

On your newsfeed, click on the Filter Icon to learn what enhancements were made to the photo.

“It’s so easy to forget that people only show the highlights of their lives on social media.”

05. Find support

Click to read reminders about social media on mental health and to find resources.


4D Design Approach

This project utilized the 4D Design Process, a converging and diverging approach that asks the following, guiding questions:

Deploy for Impact

Project Charter

We started the project by making a project charter to document the brief with our sponsors.

Interviews with Young Adults and Experts

To gain insight into the companies, we interviewed Experts in the field of social media and big tech and to understand the usage patterns and inflicted problems we interviewed end users. We then created an affinity map to synthesize our research into insights. Our goals for both interview groups were:

7 Young adults (18 to 24 year old)
Gain a better understanding of
  • What is the ideal (healthy, engaging) social media according to them
  • What “socially-responsible” tech means to them
  • What is a deal-breaker for social media usage
  • What institutions/companies they associate as “socially responsible”
4 Experts (in social media and big tech)
Gain a better understanding of
  • Their perspective on social responsibility of social media platforms
  • Their current design process and potential frameworks for socially responsible design
  • How do company goals affect their process and outlook
Key Insights
👉 👈
Share the Blame

When it comes to social media’s toxicity, who is to blame? Well, the answer is – it’s twofold: both the algorithm and its users are at fault.

👁️ ⛑️
Awareness = Sustenance

Social media companies only take action when their reputation is at stake – which means large scale user awareness prompts change.

🐧 🐔
Issues are Relative

No two users are the same. Everyone experiences different issues on social media; and because user wellbeing is so nuanced, the solution must be highly customizable.

🔥 🎇
Intrusion vs Intervention

There’s a fine line between intrusion and intervention. Content that maybe triggering to one person, may be content another person is seeking out

Categorizing Users into Personas

Based on our bucketed characteristics from interviews, we were able to categorize users into four distinct personas:

*Our solution is based on Content Consumer #1, as much of our research found young women to be exceptionally vulnerable while on social media.

Synthesizing the Issues

Through our research we learned about a multitude of problems and concerns that were prevalent among all major platforms, which we funneled into the following six categories.

Because platforms experience these issues to varying degrees––they will work as the starting points for our high level approach, with the ability to tweak or disregard any content which may not be as relevant based on the platform.

Diagnosing the Industry's Issues

We utilized Doblin's 10 Types of Innovation as a diagnostic tool to understand where the industry's deep-seated problems arise, as well as to discover new opportunities for viable change for the incredibly well established enterprise.​ Through this, we learned that the greatest capacity for altruistic innovation came from the following four areas: Profit Model, Core Process, Product Performance, and Brand.

Defining user journey experience

By plotting the intended user experience, we were able to establish a more holistic journey––defining how users learn of our service, use it, and shape the anticipated outcome. Through this, we also gained a stronger sense of personality for our service.

Solution Objectives

Create User Awareness
Help users understand the side effects of sharing their data and using different social media platforms.
Balance Website
Provide information and resources to guide you through the different issues that you face on these platforms
Empower users
Empower users to control and counteract harmful effects of social media based on the problems that they are experiencing at that point in life.
A set of plugins that integrate into social media platforms – granting users the option to opt in and counteract the harmful effects without altering the original user experience of the platform.

Visual Identity

The visual design aims to evoke the brand personality of being dependable, hopeful and inclusive


Balance Website Mockups

The first part of our solution is the Balance website, which provides social media users information about the myriad problems on the platforms, as well as access to download the plugins.

Video Narrative

We created a storyboard to demonstrate the problem, use cases and key features of Balance.

Enterprise Business Model

Our service will run as a B2B, enterprise model. We will have an initial 6 month period with Instagram, and after those 6 months, Balance would hold the rights to sell those same features and functions to other platforms. The price per feature would be $2 million with an annual maintenance fee of 20% per feature. In order for this to be possible, we will have to garner permission from social media companies and have to access their APIs.

Behind the scenes

Time Management is Key
Being the only two-person team, efficiency was vital. It helped me realize imperative it is to narrow your focus when a project’s scope is as expansive as this one.
Be true to your users
While creating a market map, we saw that every user had a different issue they were facing on the platform so it was difficult to make one map that would account for all our users. Instead of creating a force fit, we took that forward as an insight while designing our solution.
It's never too early to test
Something I learned during this experience was the value of usability testing from the very start of our ideation and wire-framing stage. It helped us realize our assumptions early on, making our design decisions more robust
Way Forward

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