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National Study — Coping with COVID-19

In partnership with Common Sense Media

Coping with COVID-19: How Young People Use Digital Media to Manage Their Mental Health

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Authors: Victoria Rideout, M.A., VJR Consulting, Susannah Fox, Internet Geologist LLC,  Alanna Peebles, Ph.D., Common Sense, Michael B. Robb, Ph.D., Common Sense 

Research sponsored by: Hopelab, Common Sense, California Healthcare Foundation 

March 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. After a year of lockdowns, remote schooling, and the disruption of social norms, teens and young adults are reporting growing levels of depression, stress, and anxiety.

Common Sense partnered with Hopelab and the California Health Care Foundation to better understand how young people have been using social media and digital health tools to take care of their mental health during the pandemic. Our new report, Coping With COVID-19: How Young People Use Digital Media to Manage Their Mental Health, reveals that depression rates have increased significantly since 2018, especially among teens and young adults who have had COVID-19 infections in their homes. Exposure to hate speech on social media is also on the rise. The good news is that young people are proactive in supporting their own mental health, and despite the negative content they see, digital media has been a lifeline for helping many of them access critical health information, stay connected to their peers, find inspiration, and receive comfort in a difficult time.

In addition to quantitative data, the report brings the experiences of young people into focus through their own words, and provides insight into how we can best support them in their mental health journeys.

Watch Interviews with Researchers and Gen Zers 

Watch Conversations with Common Sense

Coping with COVID-19 Presentation & Panel — March 17, 2021

Other Resources

Read the Press Release

One Year into the Pandemic, a New Survey Reveals That Teens and Young Adults Are Actively Turning to Online Sources to Cope with Mental Health

Read a Gen Z Perspective

Tik Tok, Gen Z, and Mental Health: The Rise of the Most Resilient Generation 

Read an LGBTQ+ Perspective

Glowing Up with Social Media — A zoomer’s queer perspective in the wake of a global pandemic 

Read our 2018 National Survey

Digital Health Practices, Social Media Use, and Mental Well-being Among Teens & Young Adults in the U.S. 

Fact Sheets:

Coping with COVID-19 Fact Sheet: COVID-19, depression, and social media use

Coping with COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Black Youth

Coping with COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Hispanic/Latinx youth

Coping with COVID-19 Fact Sheet: LGBTQ+ youth

Coping with COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Female youth

Coping with COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Problematic substance use

Coping with COVID-19 Fact Sheet: Telehealth

Press Coverage

The TODAY Show

New study spotlights teen use of digital media during pandemic

Psychology Today

5 Ways Social Media Helps Depressed Teens Cope

ABC News Denver

New study looks at how young people are using social media to cope during pandemic

USA Today

A double-edged sword’: Survey says young Americans are using social media to address mental health issues … caused by social media

The 74

 Survey: More Young People Are Depressed During the Pandemic. But They May Be Using Social Media to Cope


Hate speech soars for young social media users

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