Despite technology's ability to connect people across geographic divides and give them dedicated platforms for self-expression, today's social platforms have been shown to increase loneliness and depression and decrease overall life satisfaction. This is a crisis that particularly affects young adult populations, with approximately 90% of teens using social media today.
In this project, we aim to design social platforms that increase connectedness and peer support for teens and young adults. We focus particularly on young adults who can benefit most from this technology -- youth who do not receive enough social support in their lives, such as teens who are transitioning out of the foster care system or have families struggling with substance use, mental illness, housing insecurity, and/or food insecurity.
Our methodologies draw on therapeutic best practices, trauma-informed design, and human-centered design frameworks - centering the perspectives and experiences of young people who need the most support, prioritizing reciprocity and safety, and following an iterative prototyping process.
We are excited to be doing this work in collaboration with Friends of the Children Boston, Communities for People, Think of Us' Virtual Support Services, Stepping Forward LA, and the JRI Foster Care Program.
This project has been generously funded by The Shah Family Foundation and other donors.