A team of our (smart) researchers from SMAHRT descended on Washington, D.C. last weekend for the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. SMAHRT = Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team, which is based at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. This week, we’ll feature some of their new research. Megan Moreno, MD, leads the group and is a senior author on all of the research studies. Some of the researchers are based at other academic institutions, demonstrating the collaborative spirit of SMAHRT.

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As a researcher who is barely out of college myself, it’s interesting when I run focus groups with college students to ask them their opinions about Internet use, because I often share the same views. So when we asked college students what they think about younger generations using social media, their answers weren’t all that surprising to me. Basically, like many parents and pediatricians, college students are worried about the effects of early social media use.

As we all know, the use of social media is widespread and increasing in use among all age groups. While social media provides teenagers and young adults many benefits, including improving communication skills, being able to network with friends and family and staying informed about local and world news, it can also have risks, such as exposure to content that might not be age appropriate, cyberbullying, and even sexting (sending sexually explicit texts or pictures).

In order to gain a unique perspective on this issue, we asked college students to share their thoughts about the potential effects that social media may have on younger adolescents. We chose this population because college students are heavy users of social media and because the current generation of college students did not begin using social media until they were slightly older. We thought this would give them an interesting outlook on how it affects the generation below them.

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