Skip to main content

Breaking the Algorithm: Re-designing Social Media for Youth Well-being

speakers on stage at Breaking the Algorithm

Join our groundbreaking movement

There’s growing action and interest in the intersection of social media and youth mental health– yet youth voices are often sidelined in the process. As digital natives who understand the good and bad of being online, who better to guide the conversation than young people themselves?

Led by a team of young people, we started this project off with a day-long summit followed by a six-month, youth-led initiative to redefine social media's impact on mental health. Driven by youth leaders from across the country, we’re convening and listening to young people, tech experts, policy advocates, and researchers to uncover what’s missing, what’s possible, and what young people want.

Social media isn’t going anywhere. We’re building a future where online spaces help, not harm, youth well-being–with youth leadership, equity, and real solutions leading the charge.

Together, we can make social media work for young people.

person stands in front of posterboards covered in sticky notes while speaking into microphone

Mobilizing minds and igniting change in our nation's capital

On May 7, 2024, Mental Health America hosted a first-of-its-kind, youth-led national summit to inspire collaboration and pave the way for reshaping youth mental health in the digital world.

Through panels and design sessions, we explored the nuances of being online as a young person. Attendees heard from a range of influential actors, including policy experts, advertisers, and activists, and collaborated to design a pathway forward.

With over 70 in-person participants and many more joining virtually, we proved that when we come together, the potential for impact multiplies. Attendees included:

  • Young changemakers, including Design It For Us, ForYouPage, and #HalfTheStory
  • Influential nonprofits, including Inseparable, The Trevor Project, and the JED Foundation
  • Leading research hubs, including The Center for Digital Thriving, The American Academy of Pediatrics Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health, and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health
  • Tech giants, including Meta, TikTok, Pinterest, and Snap
group of people posing and smiling between Breaking the Algorithm banners

We hosted three engaging panels, facilitated by visionary youth leaders and featuring leading voices in research, policy, advertising, equitable design, and advocacy. Through these conversations, we explored the nuances of being online as a young person, identified what’s needed to reduce inequities, and set the stage for meaningful change.

group of people on chairs speak in panel format

The day concluded with an innovative design session spearheaded by our incredible youth leaders. Participants split into groups and brainstormed creative solutions for equity, cross-sector collaborations, platform features, and business models—all aimed at tackling the challenges of social media and mental health.

two presenters stand talking with flip charts and writing in background

Moving from dialogue and data to action

A roadmap for youth mental health-friendly social media

After the summit, we’ll harness our collective insights to initiate a comprehensive research project that charts a course for enhancing youth digital well-being. Through focus groups, surveys, and cutting-edge research methodologies, our goal is to distill actionable insights. Ultimately, we will publish a set of final recommendations, driven by the voices and experiences of youth, on how social media can be leveraged to support mental health and well-being

During the project and beyond, we’re focused on:

  • Building youth-centered solutions. Who shapes the narrative matters. Our community engagement and findings will amplify youth perspectives on challenges and opportunities in mental health and social media.
  • Igniting new partnerships. Our event, focus groups, activations, and collaborations will spark new and creative approaches, interventions, and strategies for youth digital well-being.
  • Taking collective and coordinated action. As one of the nation’s leading voices on mental health, we’ll advance our recommendations through policy, programs, and media–alongside our network of partners, researchers, and advocates.
  • Shaping the future of youth mental health online. Technology is constantly changing. We’re ensuring youth are leading change today and driving decisions in the future.

Get in touch

Interested in learning more? Want to get involved?