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Felicità2.0: Uso dei social media e benessere in adolescenza



Schulz P. J.


Marciano L.

(Project partner)


In Switzerland, 95% of adolescents use instant messaging and 91% social media apps, with Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok as the top ones. At the same time, adolescents’ mental health has declined in the last years, with one-third of Swiss adolescents reporting psychological issues in 2021. The parallel development of the two trends does not implicate that one causes the other. Only longitudinal studies that follow the same participants over time can disentangle the direction of the effect and consider key developmental processes and needs of the adolescent age in describing the implications of social media use for well-being. By leveraging the scientific publications of Prof. Peter J. Schulz, Professor of Health Communication at USI Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, together with the long experience in science communication of Dr. Silvia Misiti, Director of the IBSA Foundation for scientific research in Lugano, this Rolling Agora project aims to offer science-based communication activities to 14-to-18-year-old adolescents living in Ticino. We will discuss how social media use influences adolescents’ well-being over time, considering positive well-being indicators (e.g., happiness) and developmental processes like personality formation and need of social connections. Communication concepts will be informed by our scientific publications and the output of the SNSF Scientific Exchange workshop “Social Media and Well-Being: A multi-disciplinary dialogue” hosted in Lugano in June 2023 and joined by top international scholars. Dr. Laura Marciano (co-author of publications with Prof. Schulz and board member of IBSA Foundation) from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, USA, will be invited as an international expert. Thanks to this joint work, the Happiness2.0 project aims to (i) stimulate a critical reflection among adolescents on which aspects of their social media use can influence their well-being in a positive versus negative way, (ii) inform how key developmental processes (identity, self-presentation) and needs (social connection) can influence specific social media uses, and (iii) initiate a constructive and mutual dialogue between adolescents and experts. The Happiness2.0 project will last 12 months and include two weeks (in Spring and Autumn 2024) of a 2-hour laboratory, “HappyLab”. The HappyLab will be repeated twice per day, with one high school class (~ 20 students) invited per time, for a total of about 20 classes (~ 400 students). It aims to combine science and arts (with a focus on creative literature examples on the role of “masks” as symbols of the difference between a fictitious identity and a real identity) to define key aspects of online social media activities (e.g., authentic versus fake self-presentation) and classical literature examples from Aristotle to define happiness (e.g., hedonic versus eudaimonic happiness). Then, two informal public events with 30 to 50 people each, “HappyApero”, will allow adolescents to engage in discussions with invited experts and perform peer-to-peer interviews to share their HappyLab experience. All activities will be carried out at Casa Carlo Cattaneo, a historical symbol of Lugano and the new site of the IBSA Foundation. A final event, “HappyTable”, with stakeholders working with adolescents, will be hosted at USI Università della Svizzera italiana to wrap up the conclusions of the project and launch its continuation in 2025 at IBSA Foundation (which will be based on visual arts and science). The three activities, built on each other, offer a unique possibility to fill the gap of science-based communication for adolescents in Ticino on this debated topic. The project merges the increased interest of Lugano city to promote the combination of arts and science. Project’s partners, including Culture Division (City of Lugano), Rete Operativa, USI Equal Opportunites Service, all high schools principals, the Sezione dell'insegnamento medio superiore (SIMS), the Dipartimento dell’educazione, della cultura e dello sport (DECS), a parental committee, and the USI Institutional Communication Service, will help in carrying out the project activities successfully.

Additional information

Start date
End date
12 Months
Funding sources
Swiss National Science Foundation / Agora