"What advice would you give to young people who are new to social media?"
"Have you ever felt like you need to change your social media use...?"
Teens and young adults from across the country answered these questions in a text survey in 2020. Their answers are eye-opening.
"I would tell young people ... the internet is far off from reality and the more time you spend on it, the more you forget what real life is actually like...," one person wrote.
"Don't let social media control your life or your self-esteem," another texted.
The study, published in September, reveals a striking awareness about the potential harms social media can have on teenagers' mental health, but also their persistent attempts to counter these harms.
Some respondents explicitly said social media made them feel depressed. Many asked their parents to help them stop using it. Nearly two-thirds of respondents gave some version of this advice to future teens: Don't use social media. It's OK to abstain. Or delete your accounts.
"I have repeatedly deleted Instagram in an effort to improve my emotional state but then, I reinstall. Many times," a respondent wrote.