The effect of smartphone use on parenting – ‘CAMHS around the Campfire’

Matt Kempen
Marketing Manager for ACAMH

Posted on

For this session we welcomed Dr. Kathryn Modecki to discuss her paper in JCPP:  First published: 07 July 2020 doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13282

The panel was; Dr. Kathryn Modecki, Lara Wolfers, Clare Walsby, André Tomlin, and Douglas Badenoch. The session was recorded on Wednesday 23 June 2021

To get the most from the session we suggest reading/watching the following resources;

  • 4-minute video abstract by Dr. Kathryn Modecki
  • 3 minute read – Mental Elf blog on the paper
  • The full paper,
  • Commentary: The real (?) effect of smartphone use on parenting – a commentary on Modecki et al. (2020) Miriam McCaleb, Patricia Champion, Philip J. Schluter
  • Commentary response: Smartphone use and parenting: re-stratifying the multiverse for families of young children – Kathryn L. Modecki, Samantha Low-Choy, Daniela Vasco, Lynette Vernon, Bep Uink

Watch the session via our YouTube Channel or the embedded video below.

Slides from the session

Further reading suggestions from questions in the chat, provided by Lara Wolfers

Would like to hear about effect of phones on interaction with babies

Most research focuses on broader age ranges (e.g., 0-5 year-olds) so there is not a lot of research yet focusing particularly on babies. There is an interesting overview article summarizing much of the research on small children:

Braune-Krickau, K., Schneebeli, L., Pehlke-Milde, J., Gemperle, M., Koch, R., & Wyl, A. von (2021). Smartphones in the nursery: Parental smartphone use and parental sensitivity and responsiveness within parent-child interaction in early childhood (0-5 years): A scoping review. Infant Mental Health Journal. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1002/imhj.21908

I’m interested in how smart phone use impacts on interaction and language development in babies and young children…

There is an experimental study which is the first study I know to look at this (I mentioned this study in the seminar):

Reed, J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. M. (2017). Learning on hold: Cell phones sidetrack parent-child interactions. Developmental Psychology, 53(8), 1428–1436. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000292

It would be interesting to know if historically were similar concerns raised re parent-child interaction when the radio and then television became popularly used in families?

Yes, there is a chapter that summarizes for example the research done on TV use:

Anderson, D. R., & Hanson, K. G. (2017). Screen media and parent‐child interactions. In R. Barr & D. N. Linebarger (Eds.), Media exposure during infancy and early childhood: The effects of content and context on learning and development (pp. 173–194). Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-45102-2_11

About technology panics overall there is of course Amy Orben’s work:

Orben, A. (2020). The Sisyphean cycle of technology panics. Perspectives on Psychological Science : A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, 15(5), 1143–1157. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691620919372

How about from a child’s perspective? What they say regarding their parents use?

There is this recent paper which focuses on the child perspective of technoference:

Meeus, A., Coenen, L., Eggermont, S., & Beullens, K. (2021). Family technoference: Exploring parent mobile device distraction from children’s perspectives. Mobile Media and Communication, 205015792199160. https://doi.org/10.1177/205015792199160

Is there any research on how many people have low social media literacy? And what impact that has on parenting/mental health?

That is a great question. I do not know a paper that especially focuses on social media literacy. I think this paper might be related to this point, however, as it shows that making comparisons on social media can be detriemental for mothers:

Coyne, S. M., McDaniel, B. T., & Stockdale, L. A. (2017). “Do you dare to compare?” Associations between maternal social comparisons on social networking sites and parenting, mental health, and romantic relationship outcomes. Computers in Human Behavior, 70, 335–340. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.12.081

Could the SP be almost an accelerator, in that it can make existing poor interactions worse?

Yes this is totally possible. It is, however, also possible that the interactions phone use replaces are better to not have had or that existing poor interactions

Are there studies looking at the effect of what the parent is doing on the phone?

There are some studies focusing on what parents do on the Internet that are relevant here, for an overview, see:

Lupton, D., Pedersen, S., & Thomas, G. M. (2016). Parenting and digital media: From the early web to contemporary digital society. Sociology Compass, 10(8), 730–743. https://doi.org/10.1111/soc4.12398

For smartphone use, the means in Kathryn’s study can be interesting, we also asked parents directly at playgounds what they had done:

Wolfers, L. N., Kitzmann, S., Sauer, S., & Sommer, N. (2020). Phone use while parenting: An observational study to assess the association of maternal sensitivity and smartphone use in a playground setting. Computers in Human Behavior, 102, 31–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2019.08.013

How about longitudinal studies looking at parental smartphone use in childhood affecting adolescent smartphone use later in development?

Parent and child media use are connected and I would guess that there is a link between parental smartphone use and child smartphone use, however, I do not know longitudinal studies that look at that. For a cross-sectional one:

Nikken, P. (2017). Implications of low or high media use among parents for young children’s media use. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2017-3-1

Lauricella, A. R., Wartella, E., & Rideout, V. J. (2015). Young children’s screen time: The complex role of parent and child factors. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 36, 11–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2014.12.001

I think as children watch their parents more so when they see we are using it for educational purposes and connectivity and in a moderate way than it guides them in the direction to use it sensibly too

I agree that this is likely. Nikken shows patterns that go in this direction and there is also evidence that what is called “problematic” usage pattern of parents and their children are related.

Nikken, P. (2017). Implications of low or high media use among parents for young children’s media use. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.5817/CP2017-3-1

Hefner, D., Knop, K., Schmitt, S., & Vorderer, P. (2019). Rules? Role model? Relationship? The impact of parents on their children’s problematic mobile phone involvement. Media Psychology, 22(1), 82–108. https://doi.org/10.1080/15213269.2018.1433544

Are there studies looking at the effect on sensitive responsiveness?

Yes several, for example:

Vanden Abeele, M. M. P., Abels, M., & Hendrickson, A. T. (2020). Are parents less responsive to young children when they are on their phones? A systematic naturalistic observation study. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2019.0472

Wolfers, L. N., Kitzmann, S., Sauer, S., & Sommer, N. (2020). Phone use while parenting: An observational study to assess the association of maternal sensitivity and smartphone use in a playground setting. Computers in Human Behavior, 102, 31–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2019.08.013

Can self report responses ever be free of demand characteristics though? Especially around a topic as emotive as parenting…

Yes important point. Parents self-reports on media use are probably biased because of social desirability but also because it is really hard to estimate smartphone use in total. There is also a first study showing this:

Yuan, N., Weeks, H. M., Ball, R., Newman, M. W., Chang, Y.‑J., & Radesky, J. S. (2019). How much do parents actually use their smartphones? Pilot study comparing self-report to passive sensing. Pediatric Research, 86(4), 416–418. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-019-0452-2

Given everyone different in how they parent and use phones, interested in the function of phone use while with children (boredom, distraction, working, connecting with friends, etc) and what sense children and parents make of this….

I agree that this is interesting. I did a study on parental mobile media use for stress coping that tapped into this question for the particular context of stressful situations.

Wolfers, L. N. (2021). Parental mobile media use for coping with stress: A focus groups study. Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies, 3(2), 304–315. https://doi.org/10.1002/hbe2.252

Just wondering…is an early study of phone use by parents with a baby the ‘still face’ experiment by Tronnick et al?

There are several studies that looked into the still face scenario and parental phone use, for example:

Myruski, S., Gulyayeva, O., Birk, S., Pérez-Edgar, K., Buss, K. A., & Dennis-Tiwary, T. A. (2018). Digital disruption? Maternal mobile device use is related to infant social-emotional functioning. Developmental Science, 21(4), e12610. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12610

About #CAMHScampfire

ACAMH’s vision is to be ‘Sharing best evidence, improving practice’, to this end in December 2020 we launched ‘CAMHS around the Campfire’, a free monthly virtual journal club, run in conjunction with André Tomlin. We use #CAMHScampfire on Twitter to amplify the discussion.

Each 1-hour meeting features a new piece of research, which we discuss in an informal journal club session. The focus is on critical appraisal of the research and implications for practice. Primarily targeted at CAMHS practitioners, and researchers, ‘CAMHS around the Campfire’ will be publicly accessible, free to attend, and relevant to a wider audience.

Transcript

Andre Thomas: You’re joining from wherever you are in the world. It’s a pleasure to have you here for this session on parenteral use of smartphones, and I’m a bit nervous today because I want to know what these things do and how they’re impacting my life. I’ve got a bit of a sense that it might not all be good, but there’s definitely some good stuff that happens when I use this. I was kind of reflecting on this and thinking about how long things have been around for and I think this, this is an iPhone this launched in 2007.

So it’s only 14 years ago and yet they seem to have kind of completely changed our lives. It’s estimated that 78% of the world’s population have access to a smartphone now, which is incredible, isn’t it after 14 years. You know the advantages, they’re small, they’re cheap, and they’re powerful. They answer all questions that my kids ask me. So that’s the main advantage I think as a parent. I’ve got a six year old and two eight year olds.

Whatever they ask me, I can answer them almost instantly and just be the incredibly clever, Dad, and they make all kinds of connections possible. So my kids are getting really into music and their own music now and so I can tweet the musicians whose music they love and sometimes we get a response. I can tweet the footballers and we never get a response, but there’s definitely some connection stuff going on here, but obviously there’s massive disadvantages as well.

They’re incredibly distracting. They’re time wasting. Research shows that ironically they also disconnect us from the face to face world as well as having these connections and it is possible, I don’t know that they’re addictive. There are certainly one or two games that I play that feel like they’ve been designed specifically to keep me on my phone for as long as possible and I need to play them for longer every time in order to get the same effect. So that’s addiction as far as I’m concerned.

So we’re going to explore some of these issues today. We’re going to look at how smartphones impact on our close relationships. The relationships we have as parents with our children. How they impact on families. Is it positive? Is it negative? We’re going to do that with a fantastic panel of experts that we’ve got here today that I’m going to introduce in a second. We’re also going to take a look, a constructive look at a really great piece of research that was published last year, a paper called Tuning into the effect of smartphone use on parenting, a multiverse analysis.

So if you take one thing away today you’re going to take away what on earth is a multiverse analysis? Then we’re going to talk about, so what, what are the practical implications of this paper for parents, for families? Where does this lead us in terms of future research? I’m going to start off by introducing you to our panel and as I say, we’ve got a really great panel. We’ve got Kathy, Dr Kathryn Modecki who’s Associate Professor at Griffith University in Queensland, North Australia and Northeast Australia and her work harnesses new technologies to investigate adolescents pathways of risk and resilience across the teenage years. So welcome, Kathy, to the webinar. I’m going to ask you a question in a minute.

We’ve also got Lara Wolfers. She’s a researcher from the Social Media Group at the Leibniz Institute for Wissensmedien. I hope I’ve pronounced that right. My German is terrible. So that’s the kind of knowledge media research centre in Tubingen in Southwest Germany, and her research looks at parental use of social media and its impact on young people and family life.

We also have some lived experience perspective here today. As always, at these CAMHS campfires we normally have a young person providing the lived experience. Today we’ve got a young adult and she’s a parent. Claire Walmsley, a parent of two. She’s a smartphone user and she tells me that in her spare time she’s also the Operations Manager at the McPin Foundation Mental Health Charity. So, Claire a very warm welcome to you.

Thanks for joining us and providing this kind of current perspective and as always, we’ve got my colleague, Douglas, Douglas Badenoch from the National Health Service, Director of the National Health Service, Co-founder with me and a black belt in critical appraisal skills. What he doesn’t know about research isn’t worth knowing. So we’re going to start off with a couple of polls. Matt, if you could share, first of all, the poll that tells us who’s in the audience? It would be really nice to know what kind of people we’ve got here in the webinar today.

So just take a second to tell us what your primary role is, what you identify with most, and hopefully there’s something in that list that works for you. I can see in the chat we’ve got people joining from all over the world. So do carry on introducing yourselves. Tell us who you are. Tell us where you’re from. It’s really lovely to see who we’ve got here in the webinar.

Matt – Andre, just as one of the poll is running could you mention about the Twitter handle or the hashtag?

Andre Thomas: Absolutely. So if you want to tweet today, the hashtag is CAMHS campfire. I’ll just post that into the chat. Please feel free to tell people what you think. Tell people you’re on this webinar. Everything we do here is shared afterwards. So the video, all the materials that we talk about will be shared on the ACAMH website, and we’ll post a link to that at the end of the webinar.

Great. Thanks very much for filling in the poll. It looks like our primary group represented here today is educational professionals. So 29% of you in that group, but we’ve also got a real mix of other mental health professionals. Some students, some trainees, some parents. That’s great. Thank you. Then we’ve got one more poll before we start the questions and this one is asking you to what extent you’re concerned that parent’s smartphone usage can harm parent child relationships. So if you strongly agree with that statement then that’s a ten. If you disagree with it, it’s a one.

So to what extent are you concerned that using smartphones is harmful to the relationship you have with your kids? Please feel free to use the chat to ask any questions you have of our panellists as we go through and we’ll try and put some of those questions to them later on in the session. If you’ve got any questions about language we use, feel free to post those as well. Okay, so one or two of you are not at all concerned, but the vast majority are around the kind of six, seven, eight.

So that’s fairly concerned and then one or two of you, well I’d say more than one or two,  like 17% of you are really very concerned. So I wonder where that comes from, that feeling of harm. We can certainly explore that as we go through and I guess that’s a good lead into the first question. I want to ask Lara first of all, Laura Wolfers, Lara smartphones have been around for a long time, 14 years, but in research terms that’s really not long at all, is it? I’m presuming that we don’t know very much about the positives and the negatives of these smartphones on our relationships. Can you just summarise for us what you think we do know?

Lara Wolfers: Yes, sure. Hi, everyone. So, yeah, it’s actually really the [inaudible 00:07:52] and we don’t know a lot about the effects of frontal smartphone use on parent child relationship quality. The problem we have at the moment, actually, is that usually, so we have some studies and some data, but all studies at least in the social sciences are at least some kind of biased and the problem we have at the moment that we really don’t know how biased they are because we don’t have a lot of studies and data to compare them to.

So that’s a problem at the moment, I think. I see the literature and that’s like my opinion. I think if you will ask any other researcher working in this area, you will get a different answer but as I see the field. So I think we have at the moment quite some observational studies now that look at how parents use their phones at the playground or in the waiting area or in the restaurant, for example, also in the laboratory, and when you compare parents that use their phones to other parents that don’t use their phones, you usually see that the parents that doesn’t use the phone is more sensitive towards their child and has the better parent child relationship, interaction, quality. The problem we have here is that we don’t have a lot of data on how this smartphone is a distraction source, especially compared to other sources of distractions. So, of course, it’s not very surprising if you compare a parent that’s distracted to a parent that’s not distracted, that you will find that the distracted parent is maybe less sensitive to the needs of the child.

So that’s not surprising, I guess, and we don’t have a lot of data yet in which you compare actually smartphone as a distraction to other sorts of distractions, like cooking or talking to somebody else or reading a book. So we don’t really know a lot of these comparisons yet. So that’s like the first one but we see at least that there are probably is if you use compared non-user that’s maybe worse. The second thing is that we also see we have a lot of studies now on how parents use the Internet, Internet resources and also their smartphones and we see that parents usually say that they find these resources provided to them as very helpful and very valuable actually.

So they use it for like, they use all these parenting information you get. You can find a lot of social support there. You also can find experiences of other parents and that’s something that’s described quite often, is that you have the chance to normalise your experience because you’re on the Internet, you find usually some group of parents that actually has quite similar circumstances in which they live.

And if you see it like, parents experiencing the same thing, [inaudible 00:10:39]. So it’s not bad. So it’s kind of normal and then you feel better about yourself as a parent. So yeah, we see these negative and the positive effects and what we also see, I think, now is that actually facts are also different for each person and that’s what makes it quite complex. So especially with the like, are these negative effects more pronounced than the positive ones or is it the other way around?

It probably depends on what kind of person you are or what kind of parents you are, and also that makes it even more complex if you compare like one situation to another situation for the same parent with the same child, usually sometimes smartphone use may be good because it comes to the parent, for example, or it helps you get information and yes, the situation was maybe bad because it disturbs your parental interaction this moment and you know, I don’t know, check your emails and get even more stress as a parent.

So that’s what makes it really hard at the moment. So what we see maybe to sum up, so we see probably that there are negative effects of smartphone use and we also see that there are positive effects and we also see that it’s complex and that it’s not the same for every person involved in every situation, and maybe also the fourth thing, and that’s something I think we will talk about also today, because that’s also something that Kathryn’s work really shows nicely and the effects are not that big.

So usually it feels like smartphones has changed a lot of the way we live and you usually think if you say it there’s huge facts, but then you look at it empirically and we usually see like if we find effects, there are probably or most of the time they’re really small. So I think all I would say that it’s complex, but at the moment I don’t see a reason to really panic about the effects of mobile phone use.

Andre Thomas: Thank you. We’re going to come back to you in a second before we go to our critical appraisal session, because the chat is already alive with questions and there’s a really interesting one that I’d like to put you in a second. Keep those questions coming everyone. That’s great. I want to turn to Kathryn now and ask about what’s being called problematic smartphone use. So obviously in this age of disorders and diagnosis of all sorts of conditions we have to create all sorts of kind of terms for this stuff, and this term was coined fairly recently in a systematic review and defined the smartphone use associated with at least some element of dysfunctional use, such as anxiety when the phone is not available or neglect of other activities. I can certainly personally relate to that. So this kind of use, problematic smartphone use has been linked with poor mental health. It’s been linked with poor sleep, and in young people it’s been linked with lower educational attainment, but the research that’s been done so far can’t establish a causal relationship.

We don’t know whether it’s the poor mental health that’s causing the problematic smartphone use or the other way around. So there seems to be a big gap between what’s reported in the media, these very negative stories about digital technology and the harms they cause versus what we actually know from scientific research. So, Kathryn, is it simply that you researchers are a bit useless and it’s going to take a while to catch up with this stuff?

Dr Kathryn Modecki: Of course. Andre that’s a great question. I mean, I think anytime something new comes along we need to catch up. Yes, and I think, as Laura said, I think the science is catching up but it’s also, you know, as scholars we’re taking a much more critical eye, which I think are also nicely touched on. So even in that study that you were talking about, if you read the discussion section, it says it’s associated with sleep and anxiety.

But if you read the method section, those studies were also determined low quality in the meta-analysis itself and I think that nicely speaks to some of the challenges we have. You know, if we go backwards, Nick Allen has this great presentation where he talks about the introduction of the bicycle and how he created this moral panic about what it was going to do to families and, you know, Lara would know this much better in her field, because if you speak with media scholars and those in human computer interaction, we know with television, with the telephone that we see this same cycle.

Right, and so even those smartphones haven’t been out that long, we have continued to see the cycle. So I just wanted to touch on one of the things that I think is the issue is that when we talk about things like distracted parenting via the phone, that’s not the same thing as phone use. So there are lovely studies that are touched on, you know in the fast food restaurants and looking at parents being distracted by phones and how many times they’re interacting with the child.

Those are fantastic studies. What they’re touching on is distraction, which is separate from actual time on the phone and I think to the extent as scholars, we can be really clear and in distinct and thinking about things. It will help clarify some of some of these points, and I completely agree with everything that Lara said, because that’s another part of it, is that things get muddied. So people are studying things like technoference but then the headline is phone use, and the other thing they’re doing is looking at things cross-sectionally and saying things like causes.

Andre Thomas: Thank you. That’s great. I’m going to turn to Claire now and just give us a bit of a reflection, Claire, on what you’ve heard so far. How are you feeling now?

Claire: If I had to sum up in one word it would probably be relief, I think, mainly because and I should probably disclose at this point as well as lived experiences, as a parent of two and a smartphone user. I also have lived experience of poor mental health, of depression and anxiety. So talking about bias it’s difficult for me to know whether my guilt and anxiety levels are just generally higher than your average, but just being a parent is hard and knowing that any bit of technology, whether it is a television, whether it is a phone, you know you should technically always be doing something else, but I know that there have been times where it has been my saviour as just something from a friend that was supportive at a time when I really needed it, but I also know that there have been times where I may have been in a slightly toxic WhatsApp group. It wasn’t toxic for everyone else, but it was toxic for me personally just because of the competitive nature of it.

And I know that the impact of that, I felt that a lot longer after I had put the phone down than if it was, say, just a quick message from someone like I got last night about today saying, don’t worry. You will be fine. You’ll smash this. Okay and that was really, really brief, but it stayed with me as a positive, but also there’s been interactions that have stayed with me long after I’ve put the phone down. So it’s a lot more, Lara and Kathryn obviously knows far more about this than I do but there actually right. It’s so much more nuanced and it’s about the quality of the interaction, what you’re looking at and how you feel afterwards and how long that feeling goes on for.

Andre Thomas: Thank you. I should apologise because I’ve got a drilling that started in the background. This is what happens when you do morning meetings. If you’ve got a plumber around. You are smashing it. Thank you, Dominic, for posting that in the chat. Yes, absolutely. Thank you for sharing and thank you for being so open about your experiences. That’s really brilliant. I mean, for me, it’s often particularly the last couple of years, you know, young mums, young who are at home with their kids.

Smartphones have been a lifeline, as you say, keep me connected with the real world, with the wider world. I mean, what’s your kind of personal experience of the positives and negatives of them over the last couple of years, particularly?

Claire: Positives, being able to talk about things with my girls that I wouldn’t have expected to. An example, being somebody sent us a WhatsApp video. It was when Donald Trump had been voted out in America and it was a, sort of, animated song and dance of American monuments coming to life and dancing. Of course, my daughters heard the music, oh, what’s that? So they come over and they go, Oh, that’s. Oh that’s Abraham Lincoln.

Who’s Abraham Lincoln? What’s that? That’s Mount Rushmore. What’s Mount Rushmore? Oh, who are these people, and suddenly there was this huge shared experience which we’d never ever have had if it had not been for this daft video, somebody had sent. So there were sort of wonderful things like that and being able to share experiences with people that aren’t there, such as when I took my daughters to their first protest in London and my husband would have loved to have been there, but couldn’t because we could take pictures and video and share them with him in real time and go, look this is what we’re doing, and it made him feel a bit more of a part of it, but I suppose, as I mentioned as well, in terms of when we went into the first lockdown, parental WhatsApp groups. How are you home schooling? You’ve got two working at home parents and me looking at this going I can’t do this. I can’t, you know, these time-tables that people have put up. I’ll be lucky if I get my child to do half an hour on the computer.

So luckily I’ve learnt to talk about these things and I have a very, very sensible husband who went just leave the group. Just leave the group now and I did and that helped, but it’s knowing and having the strength to do that as well, because it is difficult, because there is all this smartphone etiquette and this whole thing to do with WhatsApp groups and how you leave and what you do and I’m quite a Luddite when it comes to social media and for personal reasons.

I don’t generally get involved with, but I know how complex it can be. So it is a relief to me personally but I think looking to the future it’s a bit worrying as well. Just in terms of how much I might have to engage and learn more in order to support my children and make sure I’m supporting myself, I think.

Andre Thomas: I guess we’ve all got this kind of we’re learning this together only because as parents the harms and the benefits of this stuff. So deciding to leave that WhatsApp group it does sound like a very good decision, but we’re working out together. What is harming me? Is this harming me or and I quite enjoying this? You know, it’s complicated, as you say. There’s been a few questions in the chat about different types of children, different ages of children, and obviously children are incredibly varied and children’s perspectives on all of this.

I want you to ask Lara first of all, the research that we have currently do we know about the different impact that the parents who use the smartphones has on different ages of children or children with different strengths and weaknesses, or what children’s perspectives is? Children’s perspectives are in all of this?

Lara Wolfers: Yes, so there are really not a lot of studies really comparing age groups, I think, like countering the response to a commentary a little bit, but there’s not a lot of studies that they compare age groups, but there are some studies that focus on specific age groups and the group that’s most focussed on are children, so children between like zero and five, maybe that’s the group most of the research is focussed on at the moment. So it’s hard to say are there a difference between age groups because we have different studies focussing on different groups, but I think the concerns raised are mostly focussed on really young children because there you can’t, what you don’t know what this phone is, and the concerns are that you’re parental distracted and your child doesn’t know why and that makes it hard. So maybe cooking and talking something that’s learnt earlier. I think that’s what people think and that’s why also I actually study like parents of young children, so under the age of seven.

So the observational studies I mentioned earlier are also mostly on very young children. That’s the thing we see, and when you look at the child facts and usually see if a parent starts using a phone that children try to get the attention back and may start acting out and that’s what, for example, what’s observed like at restaurants, for example, but also as a parent I think that’s also something that’s similar to other distractions.

So, again, it’s really hard to really say like smartphones or other things. I think there was also a question on language development, which is also really interesting. I don’t think there are a lot of studies out there yet. I actually know one. It was also an experiment and then you try to learn or a parent should teach [inaudible 00:24:20], like the world was a lot better in the non-destructive condition, which makes sense. So, again, it’s really hard to compare it. I think they maybe even had a control condition where the parent wrote something. So of course, it’s something that smartphones might be more distracting than other things, but it’s really hard to say with the current set of research if this is something that’s very robust, or robust finding that we find across all other contexts and parents and concerns of a child’s perspective, yes.

So there are some studies asking older children on how they see their parental phone use and  children see that and they find it disturbing. I think similar to like [inaudible 00:25:06] behaviour and also in other relationships and children don’t like it if the parents use their phones when they’re in the middle of a conversation. So, yes, there are child prospective studies and the child don’t like it. Yeah, I think it’s easy to summarise it that way, but again, I think it’s about the distraction as Kathryn already said, and not necessarily only phone use.

Andre Thomas: Thank you. We need to hand over to Douglas in just a couple of minutes, but before we do, Kathryn, I’m going to give you the last words to just kind of summarise this section and maybe lead us into why you conducted the research that we’re talking about today.

Dr Kathryn Modecki: Sure. Well, first of all, thank you for everyone’s perspective so far, and I think, I don’t know if Claire said parenting is the hardest job, as we know. So, you know, parenting and shame are not a good combination ever as we know and to the extent we can be thinking about how to enhance well-being of parents. It suits everybody and families. So from my perspective I have a background in prevention science and I’ve been really thinking about because we have so many dollars. We have so many dollars. Where do we put them? I think, as I spoke to this group recently, what I said is the idea that somehow if we took phones away then suddenly we would be better parents or it doesn’t make sense. Right, and especially when we think about the parents probably most at risk, you know, who do not tend to be white middle class. They tend to be in other situations.

So I know that Douglas is going to walk us through some of this, but certainly the field is riddled with small samples, cross-sectional data, extrapolating far beyond what we know and early days it sort of makes sense, and when you asked me, Andre, to begin with this, you know, has scientists just not caught up I think in the last three to five, five years ago, you could publish something and probably get away with it. I think nowadays we’re being a lot more scrupulous and saying, no, we have enough data.

We’re asking this in a more nuanced way and thinking about this more critically. So I’ll let Douglas take over, but that was certainly my perspective with these data. I had a nice large sample. It’s over 10,000 people, but over 3,000 parents and I could use existing measures, which are not perfect. They’re certainly not, and I really want to ask about some of the robustness of the findings that I had seen and as someone, you know, who’s a developmental scholar, but also prevention scientists, you know, let’s ask ourselves is this really the causal thing?

We can’t answer that with these data that are cross-sectional, but we can ask questions about the stories that are out there, because much of the literature is like these data. They’re cross-sectional. They’re using the same measures and they’re using them in smaller samples, but I will leave it to Douglas just to speak more on that.

Andre Thomas: Brilliant. So Douglas is going to start now with a critical appraisal, but I think there’s poll is there Douglas to kick off with to ask people what they think.

Douglas Badenoch: Matt, if you wouldn’t mind throwing up question three. I feel that’s been a brilliant discussion so far, and we’re already getting into some of the, a lot of the nuance around the issues with types of research or just lack of data and as we know generally speaking, a story will trump data in the general discussion of such things. So what we’re trying to do here is to push what we know from the data and research forward and it’s always, as Kathryn said, we’re always going to be playing catch up to an extent.

New technologies come along and there’s, you know, various ways that we deal with this and there’s always going to be people who are concerned, and maybe some of those concerns are founded, maybe some of them aren’t. So this is the opportunity we have with this paper is to try to push that conversation forward. Otherwise, we just end up in the same place with people who have already decided, oh, it’s terrible arguing with people who have already decided it’s great.

And obviously the picture is a little bit more complicated than that. So thanks for… I didn’t see those results. Did they come up? Oh, here we are. Great, so thank you for responding to the poll. We’ll run again after the session just to see if our unsures have moved, but that’s a very, very promising response there Kathryn. Now I’m going to share, I’ve got some slides, so you don’t have to look at us anymore, but we will be back. Everybody likes some slides.

Now, hopefully this is all going to work if I can find the correct window. Here we go. I’ll share that and I’ll start presenting. So the people we’re looking at it comes from a multiverse analysis of a survey of parents in Australia and what a multiverse, what is a multiverse analysis. That was a new one on me. So I had to do a bit of digging and my conclusion here is that what we’re doing is we’re gathering as much data as we can from a cross sectional survey on different outcomes, different exposures, different activities, and then analysing that data in all the different ways to see which things are related to each other.

So this is a kind of a shorthand way of thinking about this, is this type of study is going to throw up hypotheses that we can then test in future research. So I just want to start, I know that some of the audience will not be familiar with critical appraisal, and we tend to think of research is done by researchers who are all brilliant and most of them are, but we need to be a little bit cautious about research. What we really need to do is to understand a little bit about this type of study. What sort of question can it answer and what sort of question can’t it answer.

And we’ve already had lots of great comments from people who clearly have already got this. I just want to make sure that we are all on the same page. So the first thing is to say is that those relationships in our multiverse analysis, those are just associations. So they don’t tell us anything about whether one causes the other. So I’ve been distracted by my phone leads to less parental warmth, or is it the fact that I have less parental warmth that leads me to spend time on the phone or is there something else going on that affects both?

So we can’t really be certain about this, and I’ve included a link to XKCD which is just the best web-comic ever, this sort sciency stuff. There’s a few links in here and we’ll put these slides up on the event website after the session. The other thing to say about these surveys is that they are just a point in time. So we don’t know the temporal relationship. What caused what? What came first, chicken or the egg? So it’s a slice through time. So it’s somewhat limited in what we can say. A third thing and a slightly more sort of technical thing is that when you do lots and lots of analysis, just because of the nature of the statistics that we use to measure these associations, the more analysis you do, the more likely it is you’re going to find things that appear to be significantly related but aren’t.

It’s just chance. You know, if you sample any data you’re going to get chance variations, and one of the confusing things there is that it’s always possible to think of an explanation. People are very good at stories. So in this case if we four P-value is 0.05 for green jelly beans being linked to acne, well I’m sure we can probably come up with an explanation around the colour green or whatever E-number they use.

So we need to be careful not to be drawn into this sort of storifying  because it’s in our nature, it’s what we do as human beings. We try to make sense of the world around us, but if we’re not careful it can lead us down the wrong track, and the final thing I just wanted to say that I think particularly affects this study is that we need to have data that relates to what is a real outcome that matters, matters to us.

So we need valid ways of measuring these things if we want to study them, and I think this is again a limitation of study, but I think it’s also points to a lot of the opportunities that we have going forward from here. You know, any time I read an article in the press that says, you know, big data is great. We’re doing all this analysis. We’re just putting the data through and it’s going to tell us all the answers, I always think about this cartoon because if the data doesn’t represent what you actually think it does, then you’re just playing around with numbers. It doesn’t stop you from doing it because we all like numbers, because then you can point at them and then you’re not going to get sacked because there’s a number you can point at. So we need to bear in mind some of these potential limitations in this multiverse analysis. If you want to find out a bit more about how to critically appraise surveys there’s this very scary but really exhaustive tool that the British Medical Journal have made available for free.

And I’d recommend that if you’re designing a survey as well as if you’re reading it, it’s a list of about 20 questions to ask about a paper that you’re reading, but if you’re designing surveys it will give you an idea of what sorts of things people might be asking about your research. So in this case, our study included all parents with children who are under 18 and presumably are smartphone users. Our measures were looking at exposure to smartphone use.

So what type of things were people doing on them and what was the depth of that engagement? What was the nature of that engagement, and that’s one of the interesting things about this. We talked about the complexity of the picture before. So it’s good that the study has tried to measure. It’s not just are you using your smartphone? It’s not just how long are you using it for? It’s also how are you doing with it and how does that affect your relationships with your children?

So are you being interrupted in your interactions with the children by your use of your phone? Is there a conflict around that process where a conflict between parent and a child around the fact the parent is distracted or is using a phone and these phenomena are kind of grouped into in the stud under a kind of heading they call, technoference, which is quite a nice little label for summarising what might be different, the difference between problematic and non-problematic use of smartphones.

And what we’re interested in terms of outcomes is how these things affect the warmth of our relationships, the nature or quality of our relationships with our children, specifically warmth and attachment and there is a few outcome measures in the survey that address those factors. So given that this is what we’re trying to understand, we can run through some of those basic critical appraisal questions. So, yes, I think we can say for this type of question, this is the right type of study.

We’re looking at exploring the possible different interactions of these things. So we need to capture them all and then see how they’re related to one another. We can also take tip our hat to the researchers because they had quite a large sample. Over 3,000 people took part. They made quite stringent efforts to include everybody. This was disseminated through the National Broadcasting Networks in Australia and, you know, you would hope that that shows that it’s likely to include a representative sample of the population. Perhaps the qualifier there is it’s people who are willing to interrupt their parent child interactions in order to complete a survey, but obviously have to take part in the survey to take part in the survey.

Probably we need to think quite carefully is around the outcome measures and how did what we measure actually measure the quality of the relationships, the type of exposure and things like that and, Kathryn it would be interesting to get your thoughts on that once I’m finished.

So as I said over 3,000 respondents, which is very impressive, and there’s a very nice figure referred to in the paper, which shows quite clearly that most of the variables were not related to one another, and in fact, what the results seem to be showing was that as long as the interaction doesn’t suffer from technoference then smartphone use, particularly, I think it was social media engagement was associated with greater parental warmth. So this was one of the, I suppose, potentially surprising result.

That these tools can actually be potentially maybe a positive thing in our relationships with our children. Possibly. I would just want to point to this figure in the paper, it does look quite scary. I thought it looks like our fiendish guitar or mandolin chord, but the blue highlighted blue figures show you which analysis turned up as being statistically significant, and you can see that there’s quite a significant pattern around the social media use, the blue crosses that are above the line and the horizontal line means there’s no difference between them.

Because they’re clear of that line, then that means it’s statistically significant. So that will be something that will be really interesting to hear comment from you about Kathryn. So just too quickly round up, these are what I see as the strengths and limitations of this piece of work. I would say this is a well done study. It’s the type of study that it is. So we can’t rule in or rule out causation from this data.

We have to kind of be a little bit sober and think, right, what does this tell us? What doesn’t this tell us? Where might we look next for more definitive information or a better understanding of what’s going on? I guess the other thing to point out is just because the nature of a survey, these are self-reports, so other types of instruments might be appropriate for measuring particularly the quality of interactions. So I guess we’ve already covered most of these sorts of conclusions.

What I feel is the next step from this is that we need qualitative data that helps us to understand what is going on in these situations. Asking young people, asking parents what we should be looking at. My understanding is that there is some qualitative data that might be forthcoming from this study. We’ll see about that, but the real value of qualitative research is that it helps you to get a nuanced understanding of all the different ranges of experience because we’re not all the same.

We accept we are the same in some ways, shame and parenting probably don’t go together. That might be something that applies to everyone, but we need that qualitative research so that we can identify within that interaction what do we need to be looking at? Right. That’s me finished, and I just thought I would finish by showing you a very smart, this has got a Scottish resident who’s got the smallest smartphone in existence and she is sitting on top of the nuts and all the baby squirrels were lined up waiting to get on the feeder and meanwhile, the chunky fluffer [s.l. 43:03] here was hogging the limelight. Okay, that’s my quick view and please read the blog on the website. I’ll post a link to it if you want a bit more detail about my appraisal of the research. So congratulations to Kathryn and our team.  I’ll hand you back to the broader discussion.

Andre Thomas: Thanks, Douglas. Chunky fluffer. You haven’t just learned what’s multiverse analysis is you’ve also learned what a chunky fluffer is.

Douglas Badenoch: A technical term.

Andre Thomas: Thank you very much. Brilliant stuff. So, Kathryn, over to you. What are the implications? How do you want to respond to Douglas’s ruthless appraisal?

Dr Kathryn Modecki: I thought Douglas did a great job. So thanks so much, Douglas, for your question. I really appreciate it. I think it’s spot on. I think I should probably back up, and Andre you were probably trying to get me to do this earlier, but we did. We partnered with the national broadcaster in Australia, the ABC and let me tell you, if there are people in Australia on, you know, they’re really avid listeners.

It’s a real part of the national identity and it was just an absolute pleasure, and we did go to significant lengths to really try, you know, by going on local radio, you know, TV, print, really trying to get a range of parents on. I don’t think demand characteristics was such a big deal because it’s anonymous, it’s confidential and self-report, yes, we need passive measures of things like use for sure, although I think they’re probably tapping different things.

But let me back up and say what we did is we used the measures that are in the literature that isn’t saying that these are awesome. It was really trying to say, okay I know we’re going to be collecting cross-sectional data. Ideally I’m a developmentalist [s.l. 44:53], I would like to see longitudinal data. So rather than trying to do something that I didn’t think would actually add to the field in the way I’d hoped, I said, well, let’s take a step back and let’s literally try and get everything in here we can that’s being used currently and with a big enough sample.

You know, if there’s going to be a correlation it should probably show up in a sample of 3,000. Right. So my take is really that, you know, the widespread caution about widespread harm is probably not justified, given that it’s been based on studies like this that are cross-sectional with these measures. That doesn’t mean that for some people it’s not exacerbating harm because that’s very likely. We’ve often seen in the online space things like depression and anxiety.

For instance, in adolescence, we often see those harms online as well, but rather it was a call and hopefully a call for asking some of these more nuanced questions, really trying to move beyond, may I say, white middle class symbols and thinking more critically about positives of use and also for those most at risk how could we help them, and I would argue it’s probably not saying well just put down your phone. There’s probably something else going on, but I concur with Douglas’s assessments very much so and some of this is a call about our need for better measures and thinking about, you know, what is use. We had 12 different measures of smartphone use trying to tap what it is, but, you know, the other thing is now we’re also online on five different things, right, so how do you even begin to try and understand?

We did try and look at separating by immersive use versus less immersive use and there seemed to be maybe some patterns there, which would make sense if you’re immersed. It’s harder to sort of catch up to what your child might be trying to signal or something else but I would caution away from like, oh, it’s positive because of course that moderator fact that Douglas pointed out and more the point was, look, these are the measures people are using. These are the types of data people are using and really if you look widely these patterns are not robust risk you’re.

Andre Thomas: Please say a bit more about what you perceive to be the barriers that researchers face when you’re trying to reliably answer these questions.

Dr Kathryn Modecki: Well, probably a lot of us as scholars can speak to this. I think getting longitudinal data is key. It’s hard to get longitudinal data. It takes a lot of money. It takes a lot of tenacity. I have a study coming out with smartphone based research experience sampling with teens and that was a six year effort. Right. So I think open science is one of the best things that’s happening to this area in terms of really pushing scholars to be thinking about really high quality data.

I think, you know, our measures, trying to figure out our measures not just of tech use, we have another paper we’re working on where we’re trying to measure parenting online. So as Douglas said, if you’re not measuring what you hope to measure, you have a tape measure on the wrong thing. So I think really, you know, if I think about where we need to go? It’s the scholars keeping each other honest, really about being really critical about our findings. What our studies really are and aren’t showing and like I said, I do think open science helps a lot in that arena. You know, Amy Organ and some other folks are really helping in that because all of their stuff is open, meaning they’re sharing their data, their measures. They’re pre-registering their hypotheses. So I think… and it can be challenging.

You know, I was surprised how much this study has caused discussion, maybe not caused, been associated with discussion and some consternation. You know, it feels as if… Maybe I think we might feel like we’re dismissing people’s experiences of risk and problems, which is not the point. Like I’m not pro- technology. I’m not saying everybody get on your smartphone and stay on for 48 hours. You know, that isn’t the point. So I think that for me, those are the pitfalls that I’ve been experiencing as a scholar myself.

Andre Thomas: Lara, I’m going to ask a kind of follow-on question to that, because you do a lot of work, particularly on social media. What are the barriers specifically to social media research? One of the obvious ones seems to be as Kathryn said getting hold of the data in the first place. Is that beginning to open up now? Are social media companies actually letting you research and use their data?

Lara Wolfers: So, yes, for some researchers. Definitely not for all. Also a point and was raised earlier in the chat about self-reports like locked data, and that’s definitely a problem, and there is one paper, a pilot study showing already that for parents specifically for use self-reports has to be seen as problematic and not really measuring phone use that well. So that’s definitely a problem. I think in the social media world what makes it harder now is I think that we have so many different platforms that are also different in how they work.

So like a lot of studies focus on Facebook, but actually like our teams are not really on Facebook anymore and also a lot of young parents a lot of them are on Instagram and looking at all of these pictures. So it’s very hard to grasp what social media is now because all these platforms are different. A lot of them have different norms, for example. We see it’s okay to post something negative, negative experiences on Twitter but not on Instagram.

So the processes are very different and I think that’s one of the, like the barriers or the difficulties of the moment that we try to say something about social media, but social media is like not just one platform and just one thing. So we also hear, it’s like getting more and more diverse and it’s much harder to say this is the effect we see for social media, because for some social media it might be this way and for the other platforms the other way.

Andre Thomas: Thank you. I think we’ve got another poll. We’re interested in what you guys on the webinar today think of the kind of clinical importance of this piece of research and, Matt, if you can put that up for us. So do you think this paper provides valid, important evidence? Yes, no, unsure and whole you’re doing that, Claire, I wanted to kind of bring you in again and give us the parental perspective on this. Having heard what you’ve heard. Yeah. How are you feeling now?

Claire: Still relieved, a bit panicked. Just about as Lara made a fabulous point there about what is social media? I have sort of limited grasp of Instagram, but that’s about it and every time I think I understand what it is there’s new platforms, and I have a teenage nephew who, as you say, Facebook and Twitter, that’s not what he does. I think a lot of the things I’ve been thinking and noted down as I’ve been listening are quite selfish, but I suppose that’s the bonus of being the lived experience, personal, rather than a researcher [inaudible 00:52:37]. I was thinking about choosing to be technoference with, if you like, and again this is coming from a lived experience of mental health perspective, that sometimes the technoference might come because it’s beeped and you weren’t expecting it, but it also comes because you’ve chosen to pick it up, because, frankly, you just need a break through from the parenting for five minutes, which comes with its own layers of guilt.

So, again, it goes back to how any future research has to be far more nuanced in terms of the quality of the interaction. How much the children are involved. I know if you asked my children, the two year old, has already says to be all the time, mummy put the phone down. Put the phone away, but at the same time she has to have our own phone. So she wanders around with her own phone which is just an old one, just as she can put it to her ear and pretend, but she already recognises the interference and how my attention isn’t necessarily where she feels it should be, and the older child, the six year old would say that she loves looking at music videos on YouTube but with us and it’s a parental thing, but it’s a family thing. We all get to watch it together. So, yes I’m still relieved, but I definitely would like more research to go off and again, slightly selfishly in the arena of lived experience of those with postnatal depression as well.

Partly because that’s my thing, but I think it’s a whole subsection in and of itself in terms of support. What is helpful, what is not, and how those interactions on a smartphone how they carry on into family life long after you’ve put the phone down.

Andre Thomas: That’s brilliant, Claire. Thank you.  So it’s great to see these results in terms of what people think of the paper specifically, and we’ve got a higher yes than we’ve had before. So that’s really encouraging. People are persuaded that this is important and relevant. So lots of people are uncertain. I’d like to bring up the poll as well, Matt, number five, asking about whether you’re concerned about your smartphone use again, as we did before just to see what people think.

So if you strongly agree you are concerned about harmful use that’s a ten. If you’re not that’s a one. And while we’re doing that, I kind of want some advice for parents from Lara, I think. You know, what advice would you give about our smartphone use and there was something you said to me yesterday or a couple of days ago which I thought was really interesting. You were talking about some research that looked at how the positive effects of smartphone use disappear when parents feel guilty about it. Just kind of echoing what Claire is saying there. So tell us a bit about that first of all.

Lara Wolfers: Yeah, sure. So we did a recent study, so it’s called Experience Sampling Study, where you try to measure parental experiences on their phone use, like right in the situation or probably after it, and there we see that… again it shows quite a complex picture the findings we see. We ask about stress coping, how you use your phone for coping with the stress, and parents reported in these surveys quite a lot of guilt about their phone use and specifically phone use for a purpose.

So it’s not even like scrolling just endlessly. Even then guilt seems to be quite a big factor and we see that if you feel guilty, then the way you perceive you, like you handled the situation well or not, that’s really decreased a lot. So feeling guilty seems to, like, mitigate your experience of using your phone to your own advantage. So it’s all about the perception of this, like in the study, but I think that’s actually something we need to think about. So if we also make parents feel guilty… In Germany there are quite some campaigns actually that have these kind of scary pictures where parents are asked if they have talked to their child today already or if they just have been on their phone all day.

I think we have to think a little bit about these guilt inducing campaigns because then the parents might feel guilty a lot and this might actually decrease and mitigate the positive effects that are also associated with phone use and what Claire has just said just having this time out for five minutes. So I did a qualitative study and there was, like, the most pronounced thing that every parent said, I use the phone for five minutes for my own. So we call this a solitude snacking. So it’s small snack of being alone when you are with, like, your children all day, and I think that’s something we see a lot and I think that’s actually something that can really be helpful for parents to actually be somewhere else at the same time, but if you feel guilty afterwards, all these stress increasing affects our benefit because guilt is a stressor.

So it stresses you. So, yeah, that would be connected to your question about like what advice I would give to parents. So of course parents need to or I think parents should reflect on their own smartphone use. So when does it help me? When does it not help me, because the effects are so complex and so different between persons, it’s really important to reflect on yourself and not rely on others touching like overall effects, but really rely also on good judgement and also feel confident about your judgement because you’re the expert on yourself and you’re the expert in your special circumstances.

So what you observe will help you or helps you not. It’s probably like the best response you will get in this area. So that’s something I would say to parents, and then the second thing is, don’t be too hard on yourself. Phone use, like only phone use will not destroy the relationship you have with your child if nothing else happens. So if you use your phone and you notice afterwards that what was not good.

Like, my child acted out. I was not there as I should have been then. I feel like it’s very good that you noticed that, but don’t feel too guilty about it because nobody is perfect, and I think also us as parents need to sometimes step down and think about if it’s really bad, bad, or if this guilt we feel is like, yeah, it should be there, [inaudible 00:59:22] like, look at it. Reflect on it and then say, okay what are we going to do in the next situation and not feel guilty about it afterwards all the time.

Andre Thomas: That’s brilliant advice, Lara. Lots of nods. Thank you so much everyone, for joining us. We’re out of time, I’m afraid. So we’re going to have to close there, but yeah, do tell us… well we’ve changed people’s views a little bit. Just tell us finally what you think of this webinar. Would you recommend it to other people? Ten is a yes. A strong yes and one is definitely not. It’s really helpful for us to get your feedback and do carry on posting your comments and your feedback in the Zoom chat.

I think we’re going to leave the webinar open for a few minutes after the panellists leave, so you can feel free to share that information there, but yeah, thanks very much to Laura, to Kathryn, to Claire to Douglas, to the guys at ACMH. Also thank you to our friends at the McPin Foundation who support us with these events and have always been brilliant, and yeah, you can tweet about the webinar. Hashtag is CAMHS Campfire. Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you next time.

About the panel

Dr. Kathryn Modecki
Dr. Kathryn Modecki

I have spent the past seven years as an academic faculty member in Australia, and am currently a member of the School of Applied Psychology at Griffith University. Here, I have served as co-Principal Investigator (CI-2) on the YAPS project, a six-year longitudinal study of youths’ experiences in non-school settings and links to well-being and risk behaviors. I also serve as Principal Investigator (CI-1) on the “How do you feel?” project that has now spanned six years, and leverages experience sampling research with socio-economically disadvantaged youth to understand how teens navigate and cope with day-to-day life. I currently serve on the editorial boards for Journal of Research on Adolescence, Aggressive Behavior, Child and Youth Care Forum, and Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. I also consult for organizations such as Outward Bound at-risk programs, Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Western Australia Department of Corrections, and the World Bank. Most recently, I have joined the Australian Broadcasting Corporation with a team of scientists to explore family risk and well-being in the modern age. Twitter @riskyadpathways
Bio and image via Risky Adolescent Pathways

Lara Wolfers
Lara Wolfers

Lara Wolfers is base at Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, and joined the junior research group Social Media in February 2018. She investigates the parental use of (social) media and how this media use affects the everyday life of the family and how it influences young children. Besides, she focuses on the use of mobile and social media for management of stress and for coping and looks at under what circumstances stress management and coping with mobile and social media is effective. She is the current Early Career Representative of the Mobile Communication Interest Group of the International Communication Association. Before she joined the IWM, Lara Wolfers studied Journalism at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (B.A., 2014) and Communication Science at the School of Communication at the University of Hohenheim (M.A., 2018).. She was honored with the Communication Consultant Award 2018 for the best grades in her graduation year. Lara Wolfers received a scholarship of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Deutschland-Stipendium. For her master thesis “Self-disclosure in online- and offline-contexts – a comparison” she received the Paul-Lazarsfeld-Scholarship from the methods division of the DGPuK. Twitter @LaraWolfers
Bio via Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, image via Twitter

Andre Tomlin

Andre Tomlin

André Tomlin is an Information Scientist with 20 years experience working in evidence-based healthcare. He’s worked in the NHS, for Oxford University and since 2002 as Managing Director of Minervation Ltd, a consultancy company who do clever digital stuff for charities, universities and the public sector. Most recently André has been the driving force behind the Mental Elf and the National Elf Service. The Mental Elf is a blogging platform that presents expert summaries of the latest reliable research and disseminates this evidence across social media. They have published thousands of blogs over the last 10 years, written by experts and discussed by patients, practitioners and researchers. This innovative digital platform helps professionals keep up to date with simple, clear and engaging summaries of evidence-based research. André is a Trustee at the Centre for Mental Health and an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London Division of Psychiatry. He lives in Bristol, surrounded by dogs, elflings and lots of woodland! Bio via The Mental Elf

Douglas Badenoch
Douglas Badenoch

I am an information scientist with an interest in making knowledge from systematic research more accessible to people who need it. This means you. I’ve been attempting this in the area of Evidence-Based Health Care since 1995. So far the results have been mixed. For some reason we expected busy clinicians to search databases and appraise papers instead of seeing patients. We also expected publishers to make the research freely available to the people who paid for it. Ha! Hence The National Elf service.

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