Digital Delta did not set out to prescribe solutions. Instead, we sought to identify the levers most likely to affect the lives and wellbeing of youth in order to mobilize creative input where it's most needed.
Together, we can take actions to shape young people’s digital world into something more beautiful, positive, accessible, and more supportive of their wellbeing. But we need to know where to focus.
Through deep analysis, we identified 13
most likely to catalyze change in youth wellbeing. These factors highlight the greatest areas of opportunity to:
We've organized the 13 key factors into three groups: Balanced Content, Positive Relationships and Accessible Resources. Explore these three areas and your role in catalyzing change below.
We found that young people want balance in their online activities and interactions. They want to own and moderate the content they process online, both positive and negative and they aim to be aware of why they post what they do. Additionally, they desire positive feedback and positive memories, while also seeking to minimize hateful/hurtful content and the frequency of negative feedback.
It is reassuring to hear from young people themselves that they seek moderation in their online experiences -- not only because they want their digital experience to be positive and balanced, but because they seek this knowing it is not something easy to achieve. We need to consider, how can we support these aspirations?
We found that strong adult relationships and role models play a powerful role in youth wellbeing. We identified them as both "high leverage" and "catalytic" — meaning their presence or absence can profoundly impact healthy youth development. But it is notable that young people recognize the role that consistent, respectful, and supportive relationships play in healthy digital experiences.
We also found that the time youth spend with social groups and friends online are also in this top category. This supports a common understanding that strong, prosocial relationships with parents, friends, and social groups are key drivers of youth wellbeing in digital spaces. But the finding also underscores the importance of addressing these broader needs rather than focusing on problems specific to the internet. It reminds us that whether teens are digitally connected or not, they need opportunities to foster meaningful connections and form positive relationships with those surrounding them. This finding should compel us to consider how we can focus on these areas in the digital context.
We found that another key driver of youth wellbeing was access to resources – from basic needs of food, shelter, and safety to broader essentials including physical, mental, and sexual health needs. Scientific literature and youth reporting tells us that “online life” and “real life” are truly blended. Youth can only flourish in one life when their basic needs are met in the other. It's well understood that access to critical resources are important to youth wellbeing offline. But we must pay close attention to delivering basic needs to youth in digital space too.
Currently, one of the most pressing needs for young people is access to mental health resources. Youth experiencing stress, anxiety, loneliness, and depression, or supporting their peers, often turn first to digital places for support resources. The findings point to the need for accessible and culturally relevant information and services specifically for youth.