In 2009, around 25 percent of American high school students said they had “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.” By 2021, it was up to 44 percent, the highest level of teenage sadness ever recorded. For girls, the number was even higher: 57 percent.

What could account for such a dramatic change between 2009 and today?

If you looked at a group of teenagers then and now, the main difference you’d see is the modern teens hunched over their smartphones.

These stats come from an episode of TGC’s Recorded podcast, in which Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra shares the stories of young women being shaped by social media. She talks directly to Gen Z about what they think, feel, and believe.

Sarah has also edited a book, Social Sanity in an Insta World (TGC, 2022) that brings biblical and theological perspectives to bear on our social media use. Contributors include Melissa Kruger, Jen Wilkin, Ruth Chou Simons, and Laura Wifler. Sarah is senior writer for The Gospel Coalition and coauthor with me of the book Gospelbound: Living with Resolute Hope in an Anxious Age. She lives with her husband and sons outside Chicago.

Sarah joined me on Gospelbound to discuss influencers, fasting, and taking advice from strangers.