Amid growing concern over social media’s impact and influence on today’s youth, a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. teens finds that many young people acknowledge the unique challenges – and benefits – of growing up in the digital age.
Today, social media use is nearly universal among teens.1 While notable shares say they at times feel overwhelmed by the drama on social media and pressure to construct only positive images of themselves, they simultaneously credit these online platforms with several positive outcomes – including strengthening friendships, exposing them to different viewpoints and helping people their age support causes they care about.
Teens say social media helps strengthen friendships, provide emotional support, but can also lead to drama, feeling pressure to post certain types of contentRoughly eight-in-ten teens ages 13 to 17 (81%) say social media makes them feel more connected to what’s going on in their friends’ lives, while around two-thirds say these platforms make them feel as if they have people who will support them through tough times. And by relatively substantial margins, teens tend to associate their social media use with positive rather than negative emotions, such as feeling included rather than excluded (71% vs. 25%) or feeling confident rather than insecure (69% vs. 26%).
Young people also believe social media helps teens become more civically minded and exposes them to greater diversity – either through the people they interact with or the viewpoints they come across. Roughly two-thirds of teens say these sites help people their age interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds, find different points of view or show their support for causes or issues. And they see digital environments as important spaces for youth to connect with their friends and interact with others who share similar interests. For example, 60% of teens say they spend time with their friends online on a daily or nearly daily basis, and 77% say they ever spend time in online groups and forums.
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