Screenagers: the digital lives of young people

Some teens admit to being addicted to their screens...but for this generation, phones and tablets are critical to daily life. The authors of a new book, Behind Their Screens.

Listen 49:15
Teenagers are spending hours every day on social media apps like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

Teenagers are spending hours every day on social media apps like Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.

Most teens look at screens for hours every day, scrolling through TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube. Meanwhile, there’s an adolescent mental health crisis with record rates of anxiety and depression. And last year, a whistleblower revealed that social media companies know the detrimental effect their apps have on some young people—and may be exploiting it. All this has sounded an alarm about the issue of kids and their screens.

But Harvard University Project Zero researchers EMILY WEINSTEIN and CARRIE JAMES say there’s a lot adults have gotten wrong about young people’s digital lives. They’ve spent a decade researching adolescents and screens and most recently interviewed 3,500 teens about their relationship with phones and social media – what they like, dislike, how it makes them feel and what they wish adults understood. They lay it out in a new book, Behind Their Screens: What Teens Are Facing (And Adults Are Missing).

We Recommend

Harvard Social Impact ReviewTeens, Social Media, and Mental Health: It’s Not As Clear Cut As You Think – “But there are also teens who are adamant that digital connectivity is a path to crucial sources of support, connection, validation, and inspiration.”

The Washington PostWhat parents are getting wrong about teens and sexting – “In fact, sexting among adolescents has become such a concern in some quarters, that experts have advocated including it in sex education curriculums, decriminalizing consensual sexting between teens, and teaching “safe sexting,…”

Subscribe for more Radio Times

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal