Digital technology and adolescent wellbeing - A debate between Drs. Nick Allen and Jonathan Haidt
Nature Science Journal recently published a pro and con analysis of digital technology and its effect on adolescent mental health. Dr. Nick Allen presented the "pro" analysis, arguing that behavioral health researchers, mental health practitioners and individuals alike should use digital technology to their advantage, leveraging these powerful tools to improve mental health. In acknowledging the suggestive evidence that mental health is harmed by social media and digital activity, Dr. Allen says,
"Focusing only on its potential harmful effects is comparable to proposing that the only question to ask about cars is whether people can die driving them. The harmful effects might be real, but they don’t tell the full story. The task of research should be to understand what patterns of digital-device and social-media use can lead to beneficial versus harmful effects, and to inform evidence-based approaches to policy, education and regulation."
Mobile phones and other internet-connected devices are part of our everyday lives, and aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Knowing this, we can shift perspective on social and data-gathering functions of internet-connected devices. If we use them in the right ways, there is potential to transform existing methods of mental health prevention and treatment, making systems of care more effective and accessible to all who need it, not just adolescents.
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