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How social media affects the ways two Tulsa teenagers get their news

Photos provided
Elodie Musungayi (left) and Nathalie Valero sat with each other for the Youth in Conversation project earlier this year.

StateImpact is on a listening tour with Oklahoma’s youth. And we’ve brought along our microphones.

Nathalie Valero and Elodie Musungayi are Tulsa teenagers who spoke about how social media is amplifying youth voices and how it impacts mental health for them and their peers.

“Because of platforms like TikTok and like Instagram, people are talking a lot more,” Musungayi said. “It allows people who are younger to get their voices out.”

Read the audio transcript below:

NATHALIE VALERO: My name is Nathalie Valero.

ELODIE MUSUNGAYI: My name is Elodie Musungayi.

VALERO: I'm going into ninth grade.

MUSUNGAYI: And then this is my senior year.

MUSUNGAYI: Because of platforms like TikTok and like Instagram, people are talking a lot more on Twitter. It allows people who are younger to get their voices out, and they sometimes will post videos like that on the news as well. And I feel like compared to like some years ago, a lot more youth voices are being heard. I feel like it could probably be better. Like, I feel like there could be more youth speaking out about issues that they feel are important. But I feel like yeah, like youth voices are heard now.

VALERO: Yes. It's sort of on TikTok and all of that. But also I try not to rely much on what's going on to talk because sometimes the information is false, or they're just going at it not because of a fact, but because of an opinion of theirs. And everyone starts to believe that, and then it becomes like trendy to think that way. But yes, they are heard a lot more now than they were like 20 years ago, which is amazing. And I believe that's a really big improvement. But we could do a lot better.

MUSUNGAYI: I feel like we do need to do a better job. For me personally, I like social media because it does allow people from different places in the world to really connect with each other. And I feel like it's important that we do like, you know, have that worldwide outreach. But I also do agree that, like, the world really is like very consumed with social media right now. So it would be nice if we could have like some other resource, like a newspaper or a news site or something like that, to get youth voices out there.

VALERO: Have you ever talked about mental health, and what were those conversations like? Sound like?

MUSUNGAYI: For me whenever it comes to mental health, like because of like where my family's from, like just in the culture, they don't really talk about mental health. Like they don't take it seriously, like, at all. And so, like, I don't really talk about it with my family whenever it comes to like my friends and stuff. I would say that, yes, in a lot of ways, like we do talk about mental health, but it's more like sometimes in a joking way like it's just never really like serious conversation for me. And then do you talk about mental health?

VALERO: Well, we don't really talk about mental health a lot in my family, either. But I was depressed and like several other things, like eating disorders and things like that. And so, you know, my mom has always taken that very seriously and so has my aunt because she's been through it as well, and so has my mom, which is why she takes it seriously with me. I think it was mostly. Like. So there have been some experiences from when I was younger and like even before COVID hit, I would be like, sometimes I would think about it and like it would make me sad, and it would make me like, you know, people think like, I hate me. I hate to say that, like, oh, it would make me sad because that's what most people think depression just is like, oh, she sad like that. She's depressed. And it's really not, it's a lot more than that. And that's what I used to think. And then I experienced it, and it's like it's so misunderstood because they have so many stereotypes of what depression they think is versus what it actually is, because someone can be super happy and they might be depressed or someone can be super sad, and they might be depressed, you know, like it just depends on how you deal with it and how you're, like, trying to go through it.

This conversation was produced with support from the Education Writers Association.

The mission of the Education Writers Association is to strengthen the community of education writers and improve the quality of education coverage to better inform the public.

Special thanks to Tulsa Changemakers for helping facilitate this conversation.

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