A full recording of this event is available on YouTube. View it here.
On Thursday May 13th, the Family Online Safety Institute hosted a virtual panel discussion, “Teens, Screens and Mental Health.” Julie Jargon of The Wall Street Journal moderated the conversation between these leading experts: Dr. Kara Bagot of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Kelly Davis of Mental Health America, Tracy Elizabeth of TikTok, Dr. Niklas Johannes of the Oxford Internet Institute; and Becka Ross of Crisis Text Line.
The conversation opened with a brief overview of current research that explores the relationship between technology use and teens’ mental health, emphasizing the importance that longitudinal data provides in explaining tech use and mental health symptoms over time. It was also mentioned that screen time is an imprecise way to measure impact considering the multitude of categories that media presents.
Panelists discussed screen time and digital behaviors that are high risk or most rewarding for teenagers, noting the difference between active and passive screen time and how different groups use social media. For a lot of teens, the communities they find online are a way to get support for the challenges in their lives, and an outlet for them to connect with others. Advice was given for parents seeking to establish and enhance healthier relationships between kids and technology and how parents, educators, and other adults can recognize signs of poor mental health. Experts also shared how teens are using technology to seek mental health support for themselves and for one another online when they may not be able to do so in the offline world.
The discussion ended with reflections on the ways in which the tech industry plays a role in mental health support, emphasizing the collaboration needed between industry and their trusted community and organizational partners. It was agreed that tech must be designed to honor the development of youth, and how governments should support collaboration as well.
In a brief Q&A period, panelists shared digital parenting strategies regarding social media for younger teenagers, widespread tech use, and the ability to stay up to date on the types of content children are consuming online.
Family & Tech Columnist
The Wall Street Journal
Julie Jargon covers the intersection of family and technology in her Family & Tech column in The Wall Street Journal. Julie has been a staff writer at The Wall Street Journal for 14 years. Before starting the column in 2019, Julie was a corporate reporter covering the packaged food and restaurant industries. She lives outside of Los Angeles with her husband, three children and cat.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Kara Bagot, MD, is the Medical Director of the Addiction Institute of Mount Sinai’s strategic alliance with the Center on Addiction. Dr. Bagot is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and her research background is in adolescent substance use disorders (SUDs) and overlapping childhood psychopathology. She completed her adult and child and adolescent psychiatry and clinical research training at Yale University School of Medicine Child Study Center. Dr. Bagot’s current work focuses on the effects of technology (e.g. social media, video gaming, internet use) on development of SUDs and psychiatric illness in children and adolescents, and ways to use mobile and digital technologies to improve assessment, monitoring, and treatment of SUDs in adolescents.
Associate Vice President for Peer and Youth Advocacy
Mental Health America
Kelly’s lived experience with mental health diagnoses and trauma are at the center of her passion for transforming how we support individuals and change systems and services. She currently works in Peer Advocacy, Supports, and Services, where she is involved in promoting peer support, peer certification, youth and young adult leadership, and college mental health.
She is passionate about trauma-informed care, peer support, consumer-led transformation, positive psychology, and civil rights. She serves in an advisory role to the Well Being Trust, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the Center for Law and Social Policy. She has spoken at many events, including The White House Making Health Care Better Series on Mental Health, and has been featured in media outlets including NBC Nightly News, The Mighty, Thrive Global, Yes! Magazine, and Mashable.
In 2019, Kelly was awarded the Disruptive Innovator Award by the International Association of Peer Supporters, an award given to a young person making positive change in mental health through positive disruption.
She is a certified yoga teacher and holds a certificate in Applied Positive Psychology from The Flourishing Center. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.
Global Policy Lead for Minor Safety
Tracy Elizabeth is TikTok's Global Policy Lead for Minor Safety. In this role, she manages the enforcement of all policies designed to keep youth safe and to catalogue content based on age-appropriateness. Tracy holds a doctorate in Adolescent Development and a masters in Risk & Prevention from Harvard University. She is a former elementary school teacher, turned entertainment tech enthusiast. Tracy specializes in designing media that bolster kids' and teens' social, emotional, and academic wellbeing.
Oxford Internet Institute
Niklas is a Behavioral Scientist working as a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford. Here, he studies the effects of digital technology on well-being and performance as part of the research program "Adolescent Well-Being in the Digital Age".
Chief Program Officer
Crisis Text Line
Becka Ross is a licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 15 years experience in mental health, working in both direct practice as a psychotherapist, managing a residential program for young men transitioning to adulthood, providing teletherapy in a medical setting and currently the Chief Program Officer at Crisis Text Line; free, 24/7 crisis support through a text based service. In her current role Becka oversees the clinical team to ensure quality crisis intervention service through text. In her time with Crisis Text Line she has been part of expanding Crisis Text Line service to 3 other countries, using machine learning and technology to improve the speed and quality of crisis intervention through text. She is a passionate advocate for access to quality mental health and suicide prevention.