Best of AP — Honorable Mention


With ‘Influenced,’ Education and Tech teams bring new perspectives to teens’ social media use

Bao Le, 18, sits for a photo on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Nashville, Tenn. The Associated Press spoke with teenagers and young adults about their experiences on social media and what they wish they had known when they first got online. AP PHOTO / GEORGE WALKER IV

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The Education and Technology teams collaborated on a solutions-oriented package that provided new insights and guidance on social media use affecting teens’ mental health — then presented it in formats to reach teens and parents. 

The opening stories from Jocelyn Gecker, Barbara and Ortutay and Almaz Abedje documented how central social media has become to teens’ lives since the pandemic. The central characters, however, were not asked to relive their worst moments. Instead, the stories featured families and teens trying to find a better way forward. 

Gecker profiled families that have tried to keep their children off social media entirely — a goal that seems impossible for most parents. The richly reported story showed how everyday families pulled it off with kids in public school, while illuminating the challenges when even school activities are coordinated through Instagram. 

A piece the following day from Ortutay featured a family trying to chart a middle course, with slow, deliberate introduction of certain apps. Their teens use social media but are outliers for staying off TikTok. 

A third, photo-driven story from Gecker, Ortutay and Abedje featured eight young adults sharing in their own words what they wish they had known sooner about social media — advice for younger teens. 

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