As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to shift work and school online, social media has only become harder to avoid. While staying online has helped everyone stay connected during the public health crisis, reducing physical interactions isn’t without its mental health risks, especially for young girls.

Reports of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation have increased among young people overall, which correlates with the uptick in smartphone ownership, Adrienne Warren, director of programs at the organization Global G.L.O.W. told Global Citizen. Warren explained that while the mental health crisis among young people in the US predates COVID-19, there’s now “a perfect storm” of challenges.

"We were seeing this rise in rates, and then we hit the pandemic, which increased feelings of isolation, loneliness, disconnectedness at a really critical point in development in girls,” she said.

“This is particularly important with girls because girls report higher rates of depression as a result of exposure to social media.”

Internet access has also allowed bullying to extend beyond the classroom and follow girls wherever they go, she added.

As part of the Healthy GLOW program to provide girls worldwide with sexual, reproductive, and emotional health information, 15-year-old Los Angeles-based GLOW Club participant Brielle compiled a social media mental health guide to help her peers navigate the space.

Global Citizen spoke with Warren and 17-year-old Nuri, another GLOW Club participant from Detroit, about the recommendations and more ways to help keep girls safe online. Read their tips below.

Read the full article about girls' mental health online by Leah Rodriguez at Global Citizen.