For One Group of Teenagers, Social Media Seems a Clear Net Benefit

August 04, 2023

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News

The New York Times

While social media may be harmful for some teens, it can be a lifeline for LGBTQ youth. The U.S. Surgeon General recently issued an advisory on the potential harms of social media use among children and teens. But the advisory also outlined the potential benefits for some young people, such as LGBTQ kids growing up in unsupportive families or communities. For them, social media can be a source of information and emotional support, providing a sense of identity and belonging at a formative age. Research suggests LGBTQ teens may be more at risk of experiencing online hate and cyberbullying, but that overall, the benefits of social media outweigh the risks. LGBTQ youth may feel safer online, said Shelley L. Craig, a Canada Research Chair in sexual and gender minority youth at the University of Toronto. In her research, LGBTQ youth report that going online gives them feelings of hope and control over their actions and environment. “The language these kids are using to describe social media in my research is: ‘It’s my home,’ ‘It’s my family,’ ‘It’s kept me alive,’” she said. “We’ve found it has built LGBTQ youth’s resilience and given them hope.”

Spark Extra! Find resources for supporting LGBTQ youth at The Trevor Project.