Current Psychiatry Reports

, 16:472 | Cite as

Adolescents and the Internet: What Mental Health Clinicians Need to Know

  • Malak Rafla
  • Nicholas J. Carson
  • Sandra M. DeJongEmail author
Child and Adolescent Disorders (TD Benton, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Adolescent Disorders


The Internet’s permeation into daily life has profoundly changed the practice of psychiatry with adolescents, who mobilize online social media and related technologies in their efforts to develop identity and “hang out” with peers. Technology offers both challenges and opportunities to mental health professionals working with teens. Practitioners will need a new skill-set, including keeping abreast of technological developments; professionally incorporating technology into clinical assessment and practice; identifying the negative impacts of technology on teens’ physical and mental health and the particular vulnerabilities of at-risk patients in a digital world; and guiding patients and parents about interventions. Particular patient factors related to race/ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation, mental health and trauma history, family culture, parenting style, and personality traits will need to be considered. This article provides an overview of the literature on adolescents and the Internet focusing on recent research on Internet and digital technologies used for social communication among youth.


Adolescence Internet Social media Cyberbullying Text messaging Mental health Trauma Social identity Problematic internet use Professionalism Child psychiatry Psychotherapy Formulation Parent guidance 


Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Malak Rafla is employed by Cambridge Health Alliance.

Nicholas J. Carson is employed by Cambridge Health Alliance and has received honoraria and paid travel accommodations from Four Winds Hospital (Grand Rounds). Dr. Carson is also a member, Media Committee, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Sandra M. DeJong is employed by Cambridge Health Alliance. Dr. DeJong also is a PRITE editorial board member and has received honoraria and paid travel and accommodations for talks and Grand Rounds at various medical schools and psychiatric societies. She has received royalties from Elsevier for her book Blogs and Tweets, Texting and Friending: Social Media and Online Professionalism in Health Care (2014). She is also a member of the AACAP Ethics Committee.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malak Rafla
    • 1
  • Nicholas J. Carson
    • 1
  • Sandra M. DeJong
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryCambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical SchoolCambridgeUSA

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