Girl with brown skin and full, curly hair and wearing a pink shirt speaks into a microphone pop filter

Teens and Mental Health: How Girls Really Feel About Social Media

Our years of research into the connection between technology and mental health has put social media in the crosshairs of this discussion. This new report gives us a comprehensive, up-to-date road map to teen girls' online lives—with commentary straight from the girls themselves. Where do they spend their time online, and what do they come across while they are there? And do they believe any platforms are worse offenders than others when it comes to their mental health?

The findings reinforce what we've found over and over as we've undertaken this research: Teens who are already at risk or dealing with mental health challenges are more likely to have negative experiences with social media. But those same teens are also more likely to value the benefits of social media, like finding resources, community, or support. And while some platforms present more pitfalls than others, it is the features that are often universal across platforms—like location sharing or photo filters—that seem to have a bigger influence on girls' experiences with social media in both good and bad ways.

Those features, and girls' responses to them, provide guidance for the tech industry to make some simple but important changes to their platforms. These crucial steps could minimize harmful impacts on teens' mental health as well as maximize social media's benefits—especially for those teens who are already dealing with depression or other social vulnerabilities. Putting kids at the center of how platforms are designed may allow them to continue to use social media for all of its benefits and important social development needs.