A recent study by researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill found that young teens who checked social media habitually – more than 15 times per day – become more sensitive to expected social feedback over time.
“In other words, these teens might become more attuned to social rewards and punishments,” Maria Teresa Maza, one of the study’s two lead authors, told the Blade.
Though the study didn’t focus on LGBTQ youth in particular, young queer people – who use social media at higher rates than their cisgender, heterosexual peers – may be especially vulnerable.
“The findings suggest that children who grow up checking social media more often are becoming hypersensitive to feedback from their peers,” said Eva Telzer, a corresponding author of the study.
Though online communities can be a source of affirmation for LGBTQ+ youth, they can also be a source of bullying and harassment.
What, if anything, can be done?