New Report Reveals What Teen Girls Think About TikTok, Instagram, and the Impact That Social Media Has on Their Lives
A new report by Common Sense Media shows that nearly half (45%) of girls who use TikTok say they feel "addicted" to the platform or use it more than intended at least weekly.
SAN FRANCISCO, March 30, 2023—Today, Common Sense Media released a new research report that reveals what teen girls think about TikTok and Instagram, and describes the impact that these and other social media platforms have on their lives. According to the report, Teens and Mental Health: How Girls Really Feel About Social Media, nearly half (45%) of girls who use TikTok say they feel "addicted" to the platform or use it more than intended at least weekly. Among girls with moderate to severe depressive symptoms, roughly seven in 10 who use Instagram (75%) and TikTok (69%) say they come across problematic suicide-related content at least monthly on these platforms.
Common Sense Media surveyed more than 1,300 adolescent girls across the country to better understand how the most popular social media platforms and design features impact their lives today. Among the report's key findings, adolescent girls spend over two hours daily on TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat, and more than 90 minutes on Instagram and messaging apps. When asked about platform design features, the majority of girls believe that features like location sharing, public accounts, endless scrolling, and appearance filters have an effect on them, but they're split on whether those effects are positive or negative. Girls were most likely to say that location sharing (45%) and public accounts (33%) had a mostly negative effect on them, compared to other features. In contrast, they were most likely to say that video recommendations (49%) and private messaging (45%) had a mostly positive impact on them.
"For years, Common Sense Media has said that social media, particularly its addictive design features, have been problematic, and now teen girls themselves are sounding the alarm, said Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media. "This report reaffirms that social media is addicting our kids and exposing them to online harms, undeniably. If Big Tech companies are not going to listen to parents or policymakers, then maybe they'll start to listen to the kids and teens who are telling them point blank that social media is putting their mental health and safety at risk."
Common Sense Media also announced today that the organization is launching the "Healthy Young Minds" campaign, a multiyear initiative focused on building public understanding of the youth mental health crisis, spotlighting solutions, and catalyzing momentum for industry and policy change. At launch, Common Sense Media released an exclusive interview between Jim Steyer and United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Town halls are scheduled for New York City, Arizona, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Florida, Massachusetts, London, and Brussels, with more locations to be announced shortly. Further research and digital well-being resources for educators will be released in the coming year. More information about the campaign and other upcoming events can be found at www.commonsensemedia.org/healthy-young-minds.
"This research is a continuation of our commitment to exploring the intersection of technology, social media, and kids' well-being, said Supreet Mann, PhD, director of research at Common Sense Media and coauthor of the report. "There's so much more we need to learn about the positive and negative impacts that these platforms, and features found across platforms, have on kids. This data is critical because it helps to inform important decisions that parents, educators, and policymakers make to keep teens safe online."
Other key findings
- Nearly four in 10 (38%) girls surveyed report symptoms of depression, and among these girls, social media has an outsize impact—for better and for worse.
- Girls who are struggling socially offline are three to four times as likely as other girls to report daily negative social experiences online, but they're also more likely to reap the benefits of the digital world.
- Seven out of 10 adolescent girls of color who use TikTok (72%) or Instagram (71%) report encountering positive or identity-affirming content related to race at least monthly on these platforms, but nearly half report exposure to racist content or language on TikTok (47%) or Instagram (48%) at least monthly.
- Across platforms, LGBTQ+ adolescent respondents are roughly twice as likely as non-LGBTQ+ adolescents to encounter hate speech related to sexual or gender identity, but also more likely to find a connection. More than one in three LGBTQ+ young people (35%) who use TikTok say they have this experience daily or more on the platform, as do 31% of LGBTQ+ users of messaging apps, 27% of Instagram users, 25% of Snapchat users, and 19% of YouTube users.
- Girls have mixed experiences related to body image when they use social media. Roughly one in three girls who use TikTok (31%), Instagram (32%), and Snapchat (28%) say they feel bad about their body at least weekly when using these platforms, while nearly twice as many say they feel good or accepting of their bodies at least weekly while using TikTok (60%), Instagram (57%), and Snapchat (59%).
- The majority of girls who use Instagram (58%) and Snapchat (57%) say they've been contacted by a stranger on these platforms in ways that make them uncomfortable. These experiences were less common, though still frequent, on other platforms, with nearly half of TikTok (46%) and messaging app (48%) users having been contacted by strangers on these platforms.
This report represents the results of a demographically representative online survey of 1,397 girls (as identified by their parent/guardian) in the United States age 11 to 15, conducted from November 11 to December 5, 2022. Girls were invited to participate in a self-administered online survey (in English or Spanish) through their parents/guardians, who were targeted both via the SSRS Opinion Panel and non-probability panels. The web panel allowed for the over-sampling of harder-to-recruit participants to secure a readable base among subgroups. Data were weighted to represent the target population of preteens and teens. The sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is ± 3.5 percentage points.
Find the full report here.
About Common Sense
Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Learn more at commonsense.org.