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What Teens Want You to Know About Social Media and Mental Health

Parents can’t quite grasp how inextricable modern teenage life has become from the world of social media. Here, experts—including those modern teens—help decode the landscape.

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The U.S. surgeon general—along with the American Academy of Pediatrics—has declared a youth mental health crisis in this country. And considering how much research has shown that technology—specifically social media—plays a role in how kids feel about themselves and the world, it's easy enough to point fingers at the obvious culprit.

And while, yes, social media companies should be held accountable for deploying knowingly harmful tactics, the industry as a whole is more complicated. And when you listen to teens—as we've done extensively at Common Sense Media, where I work as the head of research—you can quickly see how complex their relationship with tech and social media can be.

Sometimes social media helps connect them to communities and resources. Sometimes it shows them hateful content or encourages conflict. But what are the next steps in dealing with this crisis? The first one sounds easy but requires patience: Listen to what kids are telling us about how tech makes them feel. From there, we can all work together and make changes so social media becomes a place where mental health is supported and cultivated for all people.

Image by Inna Marchenko / Getty Images

How Do Teen Girls Really Feel About Social Media?

Common Sense Media for Families

“In this episode of our YouTube series, we spoke with the author of our latest report from the Common Sense Research Program. Learn what teen girls told us about social media and how it impacts their lives.” -Amanda Lenhart, Head of Research

Social Media Has Made Teen Friendships More Stressful

Emily WeinsteinCarrie James

AL: “In their most recent book, Behind Their Screens: What Teens Are Facing and Adults Are Missing, Harvard researchers Carrie James and Emily Weinstein share what teens told them about the pressure to maintain multiple relationships in an online world.”

Amanda Lenhart

Amanda Lenhart is the head of research at Common Sense Media. She is a nationally recognized expert on how technology affects teens, children, and families. Check out all of Common Sense's current research.