Early adolescence is a particularly vulnerable age due to heightened awareness of peer status, approval, and rejection. It is associated with a drop in self-esteem, weaker academic performance, and increased anxiety and competition with others. Because teens spend so much time online, supporting healthy social media use through mobile platforms could reach more individuals than traditional dissemination of psychological services. 95% of teens from all racial backgrounds have access to a smartphone, 85% use social media sites, and 45% of them are online constantly.
The primary goals of this study were to form community partnership with middle school students, counselors, educators, and parents in hopes of a) identifying and addressing mental health and wellbeing needs of young teens using smartphones, games, and social media, b) developing a plan to target these needs through a social media awareness mobile app, and c) piloting a summer workshop with students to address wellbeing needs through social technologies.
For this project, the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab collaborated with a team of community and academic experts from media literacy, counseling, computer science, and STEM learning to generate interest in developing a social media wellbeing awareness mobile app, co-designed by youth who would be the primary users of the app.
As part of this project, the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab held annual workshops for middle school students on STEM, digital wellbeing, and identity. The workshops provided opportunities for youth to have conversations with guest speakers in STEM fields, explore their identities through creative activities, and collaboratively design and test-drive their own social media sites. Participants reported that the workshops made them more aware of ways to use social media in more productive, healthy, and inclusive ways. They also experienced significant increases in self-esteem and agency.
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Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about future workshops or follow the lab on Instagram.