While my 14-year-old son is a wiz at teaching me every tool on my iPhone, how well does he handle the stress of dealing with friends in the digital world? It’s a discussion I’m planning on having with him after reading the results of a new Harvard study that suggests teens face a unique set of social challenges when interacting on electronic devices.
Teens often text, chat, or email messages that they’d never say face-to-face to their friends. (Adults do as well.)
After analyzing 2000 stories on digital dilemmas posted anonymously by teens to the MTV website Over the Line, Harvard Graduate School researchers found that stresses teens encountered with texts, emails, and social media conversations usually fell into one of six categories, such as cyber-bullying or feeling smothered by a constantly-texting friend. The study was published online earlier this week in the journal New Media & Society.
“There’s an incredible value in identifying and naming the types of stresses adolescents are encountering,” said study leader Emily Weinstein, a Harvard doctoral student in human development and education. “We don’t want parents to miss real opportunities to help their teens navigate these stresses.”
Here’s what the study found to be the six biggest sources of digital stress among teens:
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