Amid measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, and even before the pandemic transpired, adolescents have exhibited social support for each other through technological means, especially during times of stress and isolation, a new paper highlights.
Funded by Pivotal Ventures and the Connected Learning Lab, their study took place before the pandemic gripped the world. But given the psychological complications caused by the recent pandemic, it has become vital to understanding the way in which technology impacts mental health among adolescents.
“The position paper summarizes current knowledge and redirects the conversation about adolescent social media use and wellbeing in three ways that are particularly relevant today,” the co-authors explained in a news release.
“Refocusing the debate over the relationship between youth social media use and wellbeing to reflect existing evidence, varied youth perspectives and backgrounds.”
“Identifying teen vulnerabilities and assets that may influence problematic and healthy social media engagement,” they added. “Suggesting opportunities where youth social engagement might mitigate vulnerabilities and leverage assets.”
In their paper, the co-authors show how adolescents experience relatively positive support from peers across a variety of digital environments, which minimizes traits such as social anxiety and social isolation.
“Sharing details on how online communication and affinity networks including fandoms, gaming communities, and creative communities can help marginalized young people benefit from unique friendships and forms of social support,” the co-authors also determined.
“Recognizing that youth experience positive social support in many online settings, which may reduce their feelings of social isolation and social anxiety, increase their social skills, and augments their offline friendships.”