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Understanding Climate Change Discourse on Social Media Among Teens

In Spring 2022, I conducted a qualitative content analysis of popular climate change posts tagged with #ClimateChange on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. The study aimed to gain insights into how these posts addressed animals and emotions and their impact on teens’ perceptions of climate change. The research built upon prior survey work with 100 American teens. See the full paper here! See the research poster here!

Figure 1. Flow of the methodologies used within the study.

Role: Lead Researcher

Methodologies Utilized:

1. Qualitative Content Analysis: Employed to systematically analyze and identify recurring themes within the collected social media posts. This method allowed for a nuanced exploration of how climate change is portrayed online.

2. Thematic Coding: Utilized to categorize and code content based on key themes related to animals, emotions, and climate change perceptions. This approach facilitated a structured analysis of the data.

3. Survey Integration: Integrated insights from prior survey work with 100 American teens to provide a broader context for interpreting the findings and understanding the impact of social media on climate change perceptions.

Key Findings:

1. Animal-related Content: 26.7% of all analyzed posts were found to relate to animals, indicating a significant focus on this aspect in climate change discussions on social media.

2. Emotional Tone: 87.5% of the posts employed negative language when discussing animals. This finding suggests a potential area for improvement in framing climate change discourse to inspire positive action.


1. Diversify Animal Content: Encourage a more diverse representation of animals in climate change posts to foster a broader understanding of the ecological impact.

2. Emotionally Balanced Communication: Advocate for a balanced emotional tone in climate change messaging to avoid overwhelming or desensitizing teen audiences.

3. Engage in Pro-Environmental Behavior: Promote actionable steps and initiatives that empower teens to take positive environmental actions.

4. Further Research: Highlight the need for continued research on the intersection of youth, climate change, and social media to better inform communication strategies.


I led a comprehensive study that shed light on the dynamics of climate change communication among teens on social media platforms. The findings and recommendations presented here provide valuable insights for enhancing online climate change discourse and fostering pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors among teens.

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