a teacher is laughing while he sits in between two of his students who are also laughing inside the classroom

King's College London Social Media Study

About 3S-YP

A young Black woman, young Black man and young white man, all sitting on a bench outside, looking at something on a phone and laughing.

3S-YP is a study focusing on social media, smartphone use and self-harm in young people.

The study looks at young people in South-East London who've used mental health services. It aims to understand how using social media and smartphones affects changes in their mental health and wellbeing.

YoungMinds have been commissioned by Kings College London (KCL) to partner throughout the 3S-YP study to support and guide current and ongoing participation within research.

Find out more about the project

What are the project aims?

  • Understand how the use of social media and smartphones are associated with changes over time in mental health and wellbeing in young people.

  • Engage young people in the planning, design and running of the study to ensure the systems are acceptable and user-friendly.

  • Engage young people in the topic through insight work and dissemination of research results.

What motivated this project?

  • As part of the 3S-YP study, King's College London wanted to work collaboratively with young people and incorporate their experiences, views and opinions into the planning and design of this research study to ensure that it is relevant to other young people.

    In order to achieve this, our Youth Advisor programme has collaborated with Kings College London throughout the study to ensure young people have been involved at each stage of the study, with our Activists contributing to workshops and focus groups to share their insights and experiences of social media and their mental health.

How have YoungMinds Youth Advisors been involved?

The YoungMinds Youth Advisor programme has been involved throughout the study to ensure that participation is central to how KCL have worked in research. This includes:

  • Workshops

    Designing and delivering workshops such as giving feedback and recommendations to the current Participant Information Sheet, consent form and study app.

  • Focus groups

    Designing and facilitating a focus group exploring YoungMinds Activists' experiences using social media, their mental health and what they would want adults to know to support young people better. This is being developed into a blog.

  • Dissemination

    Supporting the dissemination of the 3S-YP study research findings to identify what the research is telling us about young people’s experiences and how the adults around them can support them moving forward.

Our partnership with YoungMinds and collaborative approach to youth engagement has had a significant impact on the design and delivery of the 3S-YP study, most notably ensuring our study tools and data collection methods are accessible, inclusive and sensitive to the diverse needs and experiences of young people with neurodevelopmental and mental health conditions.
Three people sitting and laughing on the sofa.

Lessons learned so far

Engaging young people in research had to be a collaborative and flexible process. Therefore, this involved careful balancing of the expectations and requirements of the research study to ensure it is a positive and beneficial experience for all involved, particularly the young people. We learnt that:

  • flexibility is key
  • research and good participation take time
  • clear roles are key for professionals and young people

Project outcomes so far

The study has gained valuable input from young people through structured and safe engagement that has improved the delivery of the study and has provided an opportunity for young people to learn more about mental health research.

Key outcomes include:

Increasing conversations and discussions around the topic of social media and mental health.

Sharing and upskilling professionals and stakeholders about the project and research at a conference.

Being part of project steering groups to guide design.

Creating a methodology of participation during academic research from beginning to publishing.

Advisors co-designing, co-facilitating and co-analysing a focus group with other young people about their experiences of social media and mental health and writing a blog based on the insights and recommendations.

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