Recent Coverage

Young Sexual Minority Adolescent Experiences of Self-expression and Isolation on Social Media: Cross-sectional Survey Study

October 6, 2021

Pride FlagsThis article examines how sexual minority middle schoolers use social media, who they are connected to and for what purposes, and the associations between these behaviors and mental wellbeing, compared to their heterosexual peers.

Dr. Charmaraman, Hodes, and Richer surveyed 1,033 early adolescents aged 10-16 from four middle schools in the Northeast U.S., comparing the responses of sexual minorities (24.3% of the sample with known sexual orientation) to their heterosexual peers. 

The researchers found that sexual minorities reported having smaller networks on their favorite social media site, and less often responded positively when friends shared good news or tried to make friends feel better when they shared bad news. However, unlike heterosexual youth, sexual minorities more often reported joining a group or online community to make themselves feel less alone. They had higher averages of loneliness and social isolation than heterosexual students, and were also twice as likely to have tried to harm themselves in the past and more likely to have symptoms of depression. About 39.1% of sexual minorities had no one to talk to about their sexual orientation. They were 1.5 times more likely to have joined a social media site their parents would disapprove of and they were more likely to report seeing online videos related to self-harm.

Given previous reports of supportive and safe online spaces for sexual minority youth, these findings demonstrate that these youth prefer to maintain small, close-knit online communities (apart from their families) to express themselves, particularly when reaching out to online communities to reduce loneliness.
This study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: R15HD094281-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Support was also provided by the Wellesley Centers for Women Class of 1967 Internship Program and by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, which provided pilot seed funds before the National Institutes of Health award.

 

Channel Q: The Safe Spaces On Social Media for LGBTQ+ Youth

Teens holding LGBT and trans pride flagsSeptember 28, 2021

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., discusses social media use among LGBTQ youth on the Channel Q radio show, Let's Go There.

The Conversation: Social media gives support to LGBTQ youth when in-person communities are lacking

Illustration of teens using smartphonesSeptember 28, 2021

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., shares findings from a new journal article on LGBTQ youth social media use.

The New York Times: Worried About Your Teen on Social Media? Here’s How to Help.

Black teen girl uses smartphone while boredSeptember 21, 2021

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., shares findings on middle school students' social media use.

Psychosocial Correlates of Posttraumatic Growth Among U.S. Young Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic

July 15, 2021

psychiatry researchThe purpose of this study was to examine the association between post-traumatic growth (PTG) among young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic and their psychosocial characteristics—specifically, their distress tolerance, resilience, family connectedness, depressive, anxiety and PTSD symptoms, and worry related to COVID-19. It was published in a special issue of Psychiatry Research about mental health and COVID-19.

The study utilized data from 805 U.S. young adults (18-30 years old) who completed online surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic in two waves (April-August 2020 and September 2020-March 2021).

Overall, young adults reported low PTG scores. PTSD symptoms and worry related to COVID-19 significantly predicted higher levels of PTG, while depressive symptoms predicted lower levels of PTG. Resilience and family connectedness significantly predicted higher levels of PTG, and distress tolerance significantly predicted lower levels of PTG after accounting for sociodemographic characteristics and negative influential factors.

Compared to white participants, Asian participants were less likely to report PTG. In general, young adults have not perceived personal growth from the pandemic; however, young adults with certain psychosocial factors appear to be predisposed to such PTG.

This study highlights the importance of exploring and elucidating potential positive trajectories following the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

ScreenStrong Families: How YouTube Impacts Middle School Development

June 18, 2021

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., shares findings from her research on middle schoolers' social media use.

Disconnecting and Reconnecting: A Photovoice Workshop on Healthy Social Media Use

June 14, 2021

thumbs up kidEarly adolescents often hear messages like “Don’t spend too much time on your phone!” Yet little is known about how middle school youth regulate their smartphone usage. To help fill that gap, researchers in the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab held a week-long summer workshop to explore early adolescents’ perspectives on positive and healthy social media usage.

They used a community-based participatory action research model to design their social media curriculum around one specific middle school community, beginning by gathering perspectives from students, parents, and staff. These perspectives shaped their workshop curriculum, which they piloted in summer 2019 with 13 students from the middle school. The workshop activities engaged participants in reflecting on their social media habits, using a method called photovoice to empower them to share the world through their lenses. In the process, they developed interest in becoming producers as well as critical consumers of social media.

The researchers’ long-term goal is to incorporate these participants’ voices into a user-centered design process to build an app, website, or workshop to support healthy social media use. Their photovoice project provides an example of how to engage in a research-community collaboration to learn which social media and wellbeing issues are most salient in a school community. It is also a model to show afterschool or summer program providers how to conduct their own photovoice workshop.

 

New Research on the Health and Wellbeing of LGBTQ+ Teens

June 9, 2021

A biracial couple of teen girls smile while hugging outside.Several new studies from Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., and Jennifer M. Grossman, Ph.D., help us understand more about the experiences of LGBTQ+ teens.

Prototyping for Social Wellbeing with Early Social Media Users: Belonging, Experimentation, and Self-Care

May 27, 2021

logo chi conferenceMany 10-14 year olds are at the early stages of using social media, and habits they develop on popular platforms can have lasting effects on their socioemotional wellbeing. 

Dr. Charmaraman and Dr. Delcourt led a remote innovation workshop with 23 middle schoolers on digital wellbeing, identity exploration, and computational concepts related to social computing. This article describes the structure of the workshop, themes that emerged from discussions, and the process participants used to design their own social network website called Social Sketch.

The workshop was a unique opportunity for participants to reflect on their social media habits, discuss them with peers, and imagine themselves as technology innovators. The themes that emerged related to social wellbeing online included a) sense of belonging to communities of interest, friends, and family, b) self-care and social support strategies involving managing risks, control, and empathy, and c) experimentation while building self-confidence and bravely exploring audience reactions. 

After the workshop, girls’ self-esteem and agency increased. They reported increases in the importance of sharing about their abilities, achievements, and future career plans online and feeling of belonging in online communities. They also reported an increase in their belief that they are good at computing and that learning about technology will give them many career choices. Overall, participants were less likely to think that computing jobs were boring. 

Findings from this paper are summarized in a blog post and video abstract

This study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development: R15HD094281-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Exploring Adolescent Social Media Use

May 21, 2021

Tulani Reeves-Miller, Ramona Smucker, Gillian Sjoblum, Rachel Hodes, Teresa Xiao

May 20, 2021

Students from the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab share findings from ongoing studies during a Wellesley College Ruhlman Conference presentation.

Students Share Insights from 2020-21 Internships

May 20, 2021

Jenn Yu, Hayley Moniz, Rachel Hodes, Eshika Kaul, Charnel Jones

May 20, 2021

Students in the 2020-21 Class of 1967 Internship Program at WCW discuss what they learned during their internships.

Wellesley News: Senior Snapshot: Rachel Hodes Finds Joy in an Unusual Year

A picture of then-Wellesley senior Rachel Hodes on campus.May 17, 2021

Wellesley College student Rachel Hodes worked with Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., during the 2020-21 academic year.

MEDIUM: Prototyping for Social Wellbeing with Early Social Media Users

This photo shows a group of girls looking at mobile phone and smiling.May 10, 2021

Professor Catherine Delcourt, who partners with Dr. Linda Charmaraman in our Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab, discusses findings from their digital wellbeing workshops for middle school students. 

Prototyping for Social Wellbeing with Early Social Media Users: Video Abstract

May 7, 2021

Linda Charmaraman, Catherine Delcourt

May 7, 2021

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., and Catherine Grevet Delcourt, Ph.D., share findings from a workshop on digital wellbeing, identity exploration, and computational concepts related to social computing.

Lifewire: Why Audio Is the Next Big Thing in Social Media

microphoneApril 26, 2021

Senior Research Scientist Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., discusses the rise of private audio chats and interactive social media.

Now Recruiting Middle School Girls for 2021 Virtual Summer Workshop on STEM/Digital Wellbeing

April 26, 2021

Middle school girl uses laptop April 26, 2021

We are looking for middle school girls to participate in a free virtual summer learning program that begins on July 19, 2021.

Companion Animal Relationships and Adolescent Loneliness during COVID-19

April 5, 2021

teen boy with dog and phoneThe COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented historical event with the potential to significantly impact adolescent loneliness. This study aimed to explore the role of companion animals and attachment to pets in the context of the pandemic. 

The researchers used longitudinal quantitative survey data collected prior to and during the pandemic to assess the role of pets in predicting adolescent loneliness. They found that pet ownership was not a significant predictor of loneliness before the pandemic, but it did predict higher levels of loneliness during COVID-19 as well as higher increases in loneliness from before to during the pandemic. 

Dog owners in the study showed lower levels of loneliness prior to the pandemic, but not during it, and dog owners were significantly more attached to their pets than owners of other types of pets. Adolescents with pets reported spending more time with their pets during the pandemic, and frequently reported pet interactions as a strategy for coping with stress. 

Overall, the results from this study indicate complexity in the relationship between pet ownership, attachment, loneliness, and coping with stress. These results suggest a need for additional research further assessing how features of the relationship—such as species and relationship quality—might contribute to adolescent mental health outcomes. 

This study was done by researchers with the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab at WCW and the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. The study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development under award numbers R03HD101060 and R15HD094281-01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Social Media Related Body Dissatisfaction: Video Abstract

March 25, 2021

Emmy Howe, M.Ed., Layli Maparyan, Ph.D., Soo Hong, Ed.D., and Georgia Hall, Ph.D.

March 25, 2021

This study found that young adolescents who reported greater negative attitudes toward their body image checked their social media more frequently.

Wellesley Weston Magazine: Promoting Healthy Social Media Use

Three little girls spending time together and sharing a smartphone while outdoors.March 8, 2021

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., discusses the meaning of healthy social media usage in this feature in Wellesley Weston Magazine.

New Research Looks at How Social Media Affects Adolescents' Body Image

February 24, 2021

Teen girl uses phone while putting on makeup February 24, 2021

A recently published journal article explores social media’s role in influencing adolescents' attitudes toward body image.

Early Adolescent Social Media-Related Body Dissatisfaction: Associations with Depressive Symptoms, Social Anxiety, Peers, and Celebrities

February 24, 2021

journal development behavioral pediatricsIt is critical to examine the powerful socializing effects of networked media on early adolescents, who are at an age when social media use, body self-consciousness, and social comparisons are at their peak.

In this study, the researchers used two subsamples from a larger survey sample of 700 middle school students in the Northeast U.S. They conducted a cross-sectional pilot survey using brief, descriptive body dissatisfaction measures directly related to social media use.

Within this subsample, 19% of participants reported dissatisfaction with their bodies. Their most common concerns around body image included not being thin enough or attractive enough, and feeling dissatisfied with their body shape, hair, and face. 

Those reporting social media-related body dissatisfaction checked their social media more frequently. When compared with those who did not feel negatively about their body image because of social media, those who did had higher rates of depressive symptoms, had online social anxiety, had found it harder to make new friends, and were more socially isolated. Those who followed celebrities checked social media more frequently and were more likely to have depressive symptoms and online social anxiety.

The researchers concluded that there may be negative socioemotional health consequences for early adolescent social media users who are exposed to particular sources of social media content, such as photographs of celebrities.

Some of these research findings are also represented in an infographic.

This research was funded by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development. Additional support provided by NIH (K23 MH 107714-01 A1) and the Mary Ann Tynan Faculty Fellowship, as well as the Class of 1967 Internship Program at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

Accents: Promoting Healthy Social Media Use

Student on a phone in bedFebruary 19, 2021

WCW Senior Research Scientist Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., is featured in Accents discussing teens and technology during COVID-19.

Media And Identity Study Findings

February 10, 2021

This survey of adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 25 explored social media use, network characteristics, and mental health. The study, which included participants from a wide array of racial, geographical, and gender backgrounds, found that those who shared similar identities behaved online in similar ways. 

Participants who had written a blog were significantly more likely to be sad or unhappy, and Asian Americans were more likely to blog than their peers. Lower status, male, and adolescent participants reported significantly more rude or mean comments posted online about them. Female and emerging adults aged 18 to 25 were more likely to not be able to stop checking their Facebook or email.

This survey was part of the Media & Identity Study led by Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., director of the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab.

Media And Identity Study: Cyber Harassment Findings

February 10, 2021

A survey study of diverse young people aged 12 to 25 explored adolescents’ and young adults’ experiences with cyberbullying. The survey found that  Asian Americans experienced significantly more cyber harassment than their peers. Low perceived socioeconomic status was also associated with more cyberbullying victimization and online sexual harassment. Students attending public colleges and universities, particularly community colleges, experienced significantly more cyberbullying than those attending private schools.

This survey was part of the Media & Identity Study led by Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., director of the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab

FORBESIGNITE: Dr. Linda Charmaraman, Scientific Advisor

December 15, 2020

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., has been appointed as Forbes Ignite's new Scientific Advisor. 

Linda Charmaraman Appointed Forbes Ignite Scientific Advisor

December 15, 2020

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D. December 15, 2020

Senior Research Scientist Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., has been appointed as Forbes Ignite’s new Scientific Advisor.

FORBESIGNITE: Dr. Linda Charmaraman

Child sitting with phone in bedDecember 10, 2020

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., discusses her research on the Forbes Ignite podcast, Inner Wealth.

Study Examines the Role of Pets in Adolescents’ Online Social Interactions

November 25, 2020

03 teen girl phone dog webA journal article co-authored by Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., explores how pets can act as either a substitute or a complement to social interactions online.

Quantity, Content, and Context Matter: Associations Among Social Technology Use and Sleep Habits in Early Adolescents

November 18, 2020

journal of adolescent health

This article investigates associations of social technology access and content, bedtime behaviors, parental phone restrictions, and timing and duration of sleep on school nights in early adolescents.

Dr. Charmaraman, Richer, Dr. Ben-Joseph, and Dr. Klerman surveyed 772 6-8th grade students from four schools in the Northeast U.S. between February and June 2019. The survey asked questions about social media, internet, and phone use, content of websites and social media posts, behaviors within one hour of bedtime, bedtime, sleep duration, and phone/screen restrictions put in place by parents. 

Controlling for potential confounding factors such as gender, age, race/ethnicity, two-parent household, and eligibility for free or reduced price lunch, the researchers found that more frequently engaging in checking social media, problematic internet behaviors, fear of missing out (FoMO), problematic digital technology use, and watching more emotional or violent videos were significantly related to later bedtimes and fewer hours of sleep on a typical school night. Participants who acknowledged losing sleep because they couldn’t quit online activities went to bed later and slept less. Seeing posts related to a thin ideal weight was significantly associated with reduced sleep, and seeing messages related to drugs/drinking was significantly related to later bedtimes. Watching YouTube videos before sleep was related to later bedtimes and reduced sleep; checking social media before bed was related to later bedtimes. Reading books was the only bedtime behavior associated with an earlier bedtime.

Documenting bedtime habits and specifics of online content that negatively affect sleep outcomes can be initial steps when designing interventions for parents and practitioners to encourage healthier social technology use.

The study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with support from Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development to pilot the measures and procedures that lead to the subsequent NIH funding. The study was conducted by the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab.

Findings from the Social Media Use, Health, and Parental Monitoring Study

November 5, 2020

Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab

November 5, 2020

The Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab shares findings from a study of middle school students' social media use.

Medical Xpress: Quantity, content, and context of social media use may affect adolescents' sleep

A young girl is looking at a mobile phone in bed. November 3, 2020

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., of WCW and the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab is quoted in this article describing her new study on adolescent sleep and bedtime technology habits.

Quantity, content, and context of social media use may affect adolescents’ sleep

November 2, 2020

Teen lays in bed and looks at phone November 2, 2020

A new study finds that the quantity of social technology use, type of content viewed, and social context is significantly related to later bedtimes and less sleep for early adolescents.

Infographic: Gender Differences in Civic Engagement

October 30, 2020

civic engagement icons

Following the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab surveyed adults in the U.S. to participate in the Media and Identity Study. Findings from the survey indicated gender differences in civic engagement. Women were more likely than men to leverage in-person networks in their civic engagement through volunteering to help their community, talking to a child or teen, participating in a public event, or volunteering for a candidate.

The 2018 survey was completed by a total of 731 people. The respondents were:

  • 60% female, 37% male, and 3% described as transgender or another gender.
  • A third were located in the Northeast, 28% were from the South, 26% were from the West, and 13% were located in the Midwest of the U.S.
  • 73% were White, 11% were Asian, 6% were Black, 4% were Hispanic, 4% Biracial, and 2% were Native American.
  • Most completed college or more (72%), 21% completed some college and 7% finished high school.
  • 58% reported working full-time, 18% were working part-time, 8% were looking for work, 2% were unable to work, 3% were caregivers, 12% were students, 5% were retired and 2% had another employment status.

The Role of Pet Companionship in Online and Offline Social Interactions in Adolescence

October 14, 2020

child and adolescent social work journal

This journal article examines associations between adolescents’ relationships with their pets and their social media use. It is the first study to explore links between owning pets, online social competence, and social technology use, particularly focused on how pets can act as either a substitute or a complement to social interactions online. 

Dr. Charmaraman, Dr. Mueller, and Richer analyzed a sample of 700 middle school students aged 11–16 in the Northeast, looking at how pet companionship is associated with social technology use and the quality of online social connections. 

They found that adolescents who have dogs were more likely to check social media more frequently, give and receive online social support, and feel less social isolation. The more time spent with a pet, the more likely the adolescent played online games for leisure and browsed the internet about animals. And the more attached the adolescent was to their pet, the more likely they provided and received online social support.  

Together, these exploratory findings show that on the whole, pet owners are not necessarily equal in how they use social technologies. Factors such as the amount of time spent, the type of pet, and the level of attachment to the pet all come into play. But the more attached an adolescent is to a pet, the more likely they will have a developmentally appropriate, strong sense of and respect for a reciprocal online relationship with others and greater sense of community and connectedness to others in their online worlds.

This work was funded by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development and the Nan May Holstein New Horizons Award from the Wellesley Centers for Women. The study was conducted by the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab.

 

VeryWellHealth: Dogs Significantly Improve Teens' Social Development, New Research Finds

Girl with dogOctober 14, 2020

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., of WCW and the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab was mentioned in this article that describes the links between pet ownership and teen social development.

Lifewire: Why is Facebook Going Back to College?

A student sitting at a deskSeptember 24, 2020

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., of WCW is quoted in this article discussing Facebook in the time of COVID-19 as it relates to incoming college students.

WCW Hosts Workshop for Middle Schoolers on STEM, Digital Wellbeing, and Identity

August 20, 2020

Gitanjali Rao speaks to students during the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab virtual summer workshop August 20, 2020

The Wellesley Centers for Women teamed up with the Wellesley College Computer Science Department to host a virtual workshop that helped adolescents explore their identities, introduced them to STEM concepts, and taught them about healthy social media use.

Education Dive: Navigating cyberbullying more difficult amid COVID-19, but there are options

three students posing in front of computersAugust 7, 2020

Senior Research Scientst Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., spoke with Education Dive about the positive ways middle schoolers have been using social media during COVID-19.

Webinar Links Remote Learning, Social Technology, and Social and Emotional Learning

July 31, 2020

Kamilah Drummond-Forrester, Linda Charmaraman, and Sarah Wong July 31, 2020

Two programs of the Wellesley Centers for Women collaborated to host a webinar that explored the roles of social technology and SEL in remote learning.

Social and Behavioral Health Factors Associated with Violent and Mature Gaming in Early Adolescence

July 29, 2020

international journal of environmental research and public healthThis journal article outlines findings from two studies of the Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab at the Wellesley Centers for Women. In these two studies, Dr. Charmaraman, Richer, and Dr. Moreno sought to understand the association between playing violent or age-inappropriate online games and behavioral health outcomes for early adolescents. To that end, they surveyed two different groups of middle school students in the northeast U.S. who represented a range of school sizes, races and ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses about their gaming behaviors, health, and social media use

The first study showed that middle school students who played high-risk games – as measured by maturity and violence level – reported higher depressive symptoms and problematic internet behaviors, less sleep, more time spent playing games, and higher frequency of checking social media than non-gaming students. Those who played high-risk games were less likely to play alone and to play with strangers than those who played minimal-risk games. 

Similar to the first study, the second study showed that those who played high-risk games spent significantly more time playing games, were more interactive with other players, and had poorer sleep outcomes than non-high-risk gamers. Additionally, playing high-risk games had significantly different social impacts compared to less-risky gaming, including spending more money on games, spending less time on homework and with family, or skipping meals due to gaming. 

The content of video games and the amount of online social interaction associated with gaming play a strong role in behavioral health and social impacts within families. These results can inform guidelines to intervene when problematic behaviors emerge.

Now Recruiting Middle School Students for Virtual Summer Workshop on STEM/Digital Wellbeing

July 13, 2020

middle school student uses laptop during summer workshop on digital wellbeing July 13, 2020

The Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab is looking for middle school students to participate in a free summer learning program that begins July 27.

Constantly Connected: The Social Media Lives of Teens

July 6, 2020

Teen boys look at phone

July 6, 2020

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., presented on a virtual panel hosted by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development.

When Social Distancing Collides with Social Media

June 4, 2020

Teenage girl sits on couch and stares at smartphone screenLinda Charmaraman, Ph.D., shares tips for parents wondering how to help their children maintain a healthy relationship with social media during isolation.

Bay State Parent: When social distancing collides with social media

Teenage Girls with CellphoneMay 21, 2020

Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., comments on the positive and negative impacts social media use can have during COVID-19.

Q&A with Student Research Assistant Katie Du

May 14, 2020

Katie Du, undergraduate student research assistant May 14, 2020

Undergraduate student research assistant Katie Du reflects on her work with our Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab, and her experience as an international student at Wellesley during a pandemic.

Infographic: Social Media Literacy

May 12, 2020

In a mixed method study, our Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab surveyed 229 school staff members and 419 parents from 4 school districts in the Northeast about adolescent social media use. Of these participants, they interviewed a subsample of 30 parents and 6 school staff to examine their perspectives on their roles in supporting healthy internet and social media use as well as the topics they most frequently discussed with teens. This infographic highlights the three most frequently discussed topics amongst parents and the three most frequently discussed topics amongst educators (including, teachers/asst teachers, counselors, librarians, administrators) when it comes to teen social media use.

The researchers analyzed parent and staff survey and interview responses and found that the top three topics discussed among the two groups differ. The analysis revealed that school staff frequently discussed with their students the impacts of screen addictions and to have empathy for others online while parents focused more on how the negative influences of screens can harm their child through "stranger danger"

Adolescent Mental Health Challenges in the Digital World

May 7, 2020

charmaraman book chapterThere have been dramatic changes in internet access, mobile phone use, and social media activity over the past few decades. How has this increased online exposure affected adolescents' mental health? This chapter provides an insightful in-depth discussion of the existing evidence examining associations between mental health and technology use including depression, anxiety, body dissatisfaction, attention-deficit disorders (and risks of distraction), and addictive behaviors as well as the impacts of risky online communities on adolescents' mental health, focusing on networks promoting pro-eating disorder behaviors and pro-suicidality. Helpful recommendations for parents, educators, and providers are included in each section.

Your Teen Magazine: There is Plenty to be Gained from Social Media for Middle Schoolers

Dr. Linda Charmaraman is interviewed by Your Teen MagazineApril 17, 2020

Dr. Linda Charmaraman, Ph.D., discusses the positive and negative impact of teen and tween social media use during COVID-19 in a video interview with Your Teen Magazine.

Infographic: Who Are Middle Schoolers Following on Instagram?

April 7, 2020

Our Youth, Media & Wellbeing Research Lab, surveyed 700 students aged 11 to 16 on their social media use, their mental health, and how they were influenced by peers. Survey results showed that 54 percent of students who reported social media-related body dissatisfaction said celebrity photos triggered those feelings. To better understand how celebrity Instagram posts might influence youth, researchers did an in-depth analysis of the Instagram accounts used by 18 students from the initial 700-student sample. This infographic highlights findings from the analysis of students' Instagram habits. 

The researchers analyzed who the 18 students followed on Instagram, noting the numbers of celebrities and non-celebrities followed. The analysis revealed that the students followed up to 2,150 Instagram accounts. Of those, students followed up to 154 celebrity accounts. When looking at the data by gender, researchers noted that boys followed, on average, 160 more Instagram accounts than girls. However, girls, on average, followed 5 times more celebrities than boys. 

The study was funded by Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, with additional support provided by the National Institutes of Health and the Mary Ann Tynan Faculty Fellowship to Dr. Liu, as well as the Class of 1967 Internship Program at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

Infographic with information about middle schoolers' social media use and body image issues

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