Healthy tech use and media consumption advocacy nonprofit Common Sense is releasing “Social Media, Social Life, 2018,” a research report examining the spectrum of interactions between teens and social media, based on interviewing 1,141 US kids 13 to 17 years old.
In general terms, personality and socioeconomic conditions mediate the benefits, affordances and the quality of the relationship with social media. Specific outlets also elicit specific expectations and results.
The landscape of digital media is in constant flux, and so it seems the case for the conversations teens themselves have about the role of social networks on their lives, which continues to expand. Like weapons, social media can protect, and harm. Like certain substances, they can lead to addiction, and they can also heal. Assuming an irreplaceable need for human connection, as Common Sense researcher Julie Lythcott-Haims does, the resulting feelings from teen interaction can be broadly understood from this crucible. Excess levels of positive response can lead to lower empathy. Negative responses, to low self-esteem or normalization. Lack of response, to depression, anxiety or disinterest. As you might guess, it all depends.
Here is a sample of key statistics from the report:
- 21% percent says social media makes them feel “Popular.” “Confident,” 20%. “Better about themselves,” 18%.
- 25% claim social media makes them feel “Lonely,” 16% “Depressed.”
- 29% believe social media makes them feel less depressed, compared to the 11% stating the opposite. This flips 2012 results of 11 and 15%, respectively.
- Among teens with declared “low social-emotional wellbeing,” 70% report feelings of “exclusion” during their social media use. 43% admit to deleting posts after receiving no response.
- A teen is slightly more likely to prefer text-based over in-person interaction. The opposite decisively the case in 2012.
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