Risks and Opportunities for Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Digital Age
The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry invites manuscripts for a special issue on “Risks and Opportunities for Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Digital Age” to be edited by Professor Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics and Political Science, Professor Chris Hollis, University of Nottingham and Edmund Sonuga-Barke, King’s College London.
The digital technology revolution has the potential to impact youth mental health in profound ways – for both good and bad. This includes the potential to widen access for children and young people to evidence-based interventions and to automate parts of diagnostic, monitoring and treatment pathways, bridging the mental health treatment gap through novel, tailored, flexible or less stigmatising approaches. Digital technologies may be especially valuable in creating structures of support, formal and informal, for isolated or hard-to-reach groups.
However, they may also pose new risks to mental health, including exposure to age-inappropriate material (e.g., violence, hate and pornography), online gambling, and excessive or dysfunctional social media use – where potential harms include social isolation, disturbed sleep, cyberbullying, peer pressures to conform to idealised lifestyles and body images. Both risks and opportunities for youth mental health have been linked to the pervasiveness and ubiquity of digital communication and the immediacy, intimacy, privacy and anonymity that digital platforms offer. While the risks may be more marked in already vulnerable individuals, they are also in greater need of the opportunities. In a domain marked by public anxiety and contested findings, this JCPP 2020 special issue will address the urgent need for rigorous research on the impact of digital technology use on child and adolescent mental health.
We invite high quality studies on relevant topics including (but not limited to):
i) The clinical effectiveness and mechanism of action of digital interventions for child and adolescent mental health problems and neurodevelopmental conditions (including online tools, services and apps).
ii) The role of automated assessment and remote measurement technology for early identification, diagnosis and monitoring treatment outcomes.
iii) Use of gamification and virtual reality for clinical benefit.
iv) The role of digital technologies on the mental health of vulnerable or isolated populations.
v) Parenting and family life in the digital age.
vi) Positive and negative effects of social media on child and adolescent mental health – from peer-to-peer and other forms of support to cyberbullying and trolling.
vii) Grooming, pornography and sexual exploitation.
viii) Self-concept and body image.
ix) Excessive technology use.
We encourage submissions that use a range of rigorous research methodologies including randomised controlled trials (RCTs), observational and cohort studies, experimental manipulations and systematic reviews.
Interested authors should submit a letter of intent as a Word file to the JCPP editorial office (Prabha.Choubina@acamh.org) with ‘Digital Revolution…Special Issue’ in the subject line by 31 March 2019. It should include: a title; a description of the proposed submission (up to 500 words); an explanation of the unique contribution made by the proposed manuscript (under 100 words); names and affiliation of all authors; and contact information for the corresponding author.
The editors will review all letters and invite a select few to be submitted as full manuscripts. Manuscript submission will be due by 30 September 2019. They will then be subject to full review.