This nationally representative probability survey of 14- to 22-year-olds sheds important new light on the relationship between social media use and adolescent depression. The survey reveals that teens and young adults are making extensive use of the internet, social media, and mobile apps to help address their depression and anxiety. In addition, young people suffering from depression or anxiety have diverse responses to social media – for some, it is an important lifeline to support and human connection, while for others it just reinforces negative emotions. Many young people exhibit a high degree of 'agency' about how they use social media - consciously curating their feeds for inspiration and support, or staying off social media entirely during tough times. In addition to the quantitative data, the report includes numerous comments from survey respondents describing in their own words how they use digital media when they are feeling depressed or anxious. The survey was conducted in collaboration with Susannah Fox, on behalf of Hopelab and Well Being Trust.
Interested in what others have to say about the research? Read the NBC News piece on the study, or the Health Populi post about what they call a “breakthrough, sobering” report. Health Populi also calls the report “the first deep-dive into the many dimensions of young people, their relationship with social media, and depression.” In NetFamilyNews, Anne Collier calls the report “groundbreaking,” while The Quantified Self writes that the report “deserves sustained attention,” and notes “There’s a lot to think about in this report.”