Click on the tabs below to read about the findings for the past 3 years.
How Do Teens Feel About Their School Relationships?
Teen’s sense of how well they communicate with friends, how much they trust friends,
and how alienated they are by friends hasn’t really changed.
We think being able to socialize online allowed them to stay connected with friends.
Teens rated their sense of school belonging as about 3 out of 5.
They had a higher sense of school belonging before COVID (based on their recollection), but it has stayed steady since the onset of COVID.
In Their Own Words
To help overcome COVID-related learning disruptions, teens told us that schools can:
1. Provide extra review and virtual support
Having FIT time has been really helpful as I can go see my teachers for extra help without giving up a lunch. Having teachers post lessons on Teams as well as homework helps me keep track of everything. – Grade 12 girl
[Give] us more time to complete assignments and projects and reviewing the material covered last year and the years before.– Grade 9 non-binary
2. Increase Individual support
… student[s’] personal lives can sometimes be very troubled and reaching out or finding them help can impact us a lot.– Grade 11 girl
I wish teachers did more one-on-one time especially when having difficulty with questions or lessons.– Grade 10 girl
3. Be more patient with those struggling with mental health
… [Q]uite often things are happening in the background, things in our relationships, lives outside of school, or even mental health. [A]ll [of] those things interfere with our learning and when teachers get upset or reprimand you it makes us want to give up. – Grade 12 girl
… [I] would appreciate if my teachers were a little more patient and understanding that I talk little not because I don’t have a strong understanding on the subject, but because I am shy and not comfortable enough to speak in class just yet. – Grade 8 trans boy
4. Be more flexibility in the classroom
[I] feel like a penalty for an assignment being late doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because my mark in a class or an assignment should be about how good [I] am at the subject at hand and not getting things in on time…– Grade 11 boy
5. Help students avoid distractions in the classroom
… No teachers I have had will ever tell people talking to stop, that’s my main distraction/disruption when I’m trying to work making that a challenge.– Grade 11 girl
They could be more disciplined with us and not let us use our phones or get distracted from our work.– Grade 12 girl
How Important is Technology?
Almost half of teens identified technology as being important in maintaining their relationships.
In 2022, when they were back in school, only 13.9 % mentioned the importance of technology.
In Their Own Words
Social media has really helped us stay in touch. My friends and I also plan outdoor activities in small groups whenever possible. If not, we can FaceTime, call, etc.– Grade 11 girl in 2020
Phones have allowed me to talk to more people that I usually wouldn’t have. Since the start of COVID, I am able to talk to more people and create more friendships with those around me.– Grade 10 boy in 2020
How Problematic is Smartphone Use?
Teens spend a lot of time online, but…
Only a small percentage of teens fit the criteria for problematic smartphone use. Most teens use technology in normative and adaptive ways.
Problematic smartphone use is defined as needing to use your smartphone in a compulsive way, such that it causes problems for you at school and in your home life.
How are Teens Feeling?
Every year in the survey, we asked teens how they were feeling.
Lots of teens felt depressed and anxious, but it hasn’t changed over the pandemic
Teens felt less lonely when they were back in school.
Technology helped teens stay in contact with their friends, but online communication cannot replace in-person experiences.
Are Teens Socially Connected?
Most teens felt connected to their friends during the pandemic.
Going back to school helped even more teens feel connected, but we are still concerned about the 12.5% of the ‘disconnected’ teens.
In Their Own Words
We asked teens to describe how connected they are with others:
I really feel like I have lost myself over this time. It is a constant struggle to get up and get things done because it really feels like I have no choice at this point. I feel very isolated as I genuinely have started struggling even more with sharing my feelings with others.– Disconnected Grade 11 girl in 2020
I’ve felt like I’ve made better connections this year because we’re back to full time school in person, and it makes me happier to be able to interact with my friends and teachers more. – Connected Grade 10 girl in 2021
[I] feel very connected with my close friends and [I]’m very glad [I] have them. [I] also feel very connected with the teachers [I] love and the people in the community [I] know well. [I] am not one to interact much with people [I] don’t know, so when [I]’m with the people [I] do know [I] love that [I] feel comfortable. [C]ovid has not affected my friendships very much[.] [M]e and my friends have gotten through pretty well.– Connected Grade 11 non-binary in 2022
I found that my social skills have greatly declined since the start of covid. I find myself feeling anxious having to talk to people and share my feelings and emotions with others. – Disconnected Grade 10 in 2022
Our data showed that school connectedness, peer attachment, and being extraverted reduced the likelihood of a teen feeling disconnected.
On the other hand, feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear of missing out increased the likelihood of someone feeling disconnected.
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