The Use of Technology by Youth: Implications for Psychiatric Educators

  • Shashank V. Joshi
  • Dorothy Stubbe
  • Su-Ting T. Li
  • Donald M. HiltyEmail author
Column: Media
Today’s youth are using technology in a variety of ways, from texting and tweeting to chatting, online gaming, and posting through a variety of Internet portals. Of US adults and those aged 18–29, respectively, 88% and 99% use the Internet [ 1]. As of 2017, approximately 95% of American adults have a cell phone and 77% a smartphone [ 1]. Social media—usually defined as web-based and mobile services that allow people to share a connection, monitor progress, and create/manipulate text, audio, photos, and/or video [ 2, 3]—is also exponentially growing [ 4]. Social media and networking options like Twitter and Facebook are common among the Digital Native (Z; 1998–present), Millennial (Y; 1981–1997), and X (1965–1980) Generations (Table 1) [ 5, 6].
Table 1

Popular social media sites for youth [source:]

Parents and educators may not be aware of the apps that children and teens use regularly or may not be aware...



American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

American Academy of Pediatrics.

American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Pew Research Center. Fact sheet on Internet use. Accessed 10/8/18.
  2. 2.
    Boyd DM, Ellison NB. Social network sites: definition, history and scholarship. J Comput-Mediat Commun. 2007;13(1):210–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Canadian Medical Association. Social media and Canadian physicians – issues and rules of engagement. 2015. Accessed 10/8/18.
  4. 4.
    Hilty DM, Chan S, Torous J, et al. New frontiers in healthcare and technology: Internet- and web-based mental options emerge to complement in-person and telepsychiatric care options. J Health Med Informat. 2015;6(4):1–14.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Common Sense Media. The common sense census: media use by tweens and teens. Accessed 10/8/18.
  6. 6.
    Pew Research Center. Defining generations: where millennials end and post-Millennials begin. Accessed 10/8/18.
  7. 7.
    Välimäki M, Anttila K, Anttila M, Lahti M. Web-based interventions supporting adolescents and young people with depressive symptoms: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Med Internet Res Mhealth Uhealth. 2017;5(12):e180. Scholar
  8. 8.
    Keating SR, McCurry MK. Systematic review of text messaging as an intervention for adolescent obesity. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2015;27:714–20. Scholar
  9. 9.
    Carson NJ, Gansner M, Khang J. Assessment of digital media use in the adolescent psychiatric evaluation. Child Adolesc Clin N Am. 2018;27:133–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mihajlov M, Vejmelka L. Internet addiction: a review of the first twenty years. Psychiatr Danub. 2017;3:260–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Pontes HM. Investigating the differential effects of social networking site addiction and Internet gaming disorder on psychological health. J Behav Addict. 2017;13:1–10.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Van Geel M, Vedder P, Tanilon J. Relationship between peer victimization, cyberbullying, and suicide in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(5):435–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Englander E. Risky business talking with your patients about cyberbullying and sexting. Child Adolesc Clin N Am. 2018;27:287–305.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14. Cyberbullying tactics. Accessed 10/8/18.
  15. 15.
    The Resilience Project. We can stop toxic stress. Bullying and cyberbullying. American Academy of Pediatrics. Accessed 10/8/18.
  16. 16.
    Suler J. The online disinhibition effect. CyberPsychol Behav. 2004;7(3):321–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Brody JE. Hooked on our smartphones. NY Times; September 1, 2017. Accessed 10/8/18.
  18. 18.
    Saparova D. Motivating, influencing, and persuading patients through personal health records: a scoping review. Persp Health Inf Manag. 2012;9(Summer). Accessed 10/8/18.
  19. 19.
    Carli V, Hoven CW, Wasserman C, Chiesa F, Guffanti G, Sarchiapone M, et al. A newly identified group of adolescents at “invisible” risk for psychopathology and suicidal behavior: findings from SEYLE study. World Psychiatry. 2014;13:78–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hilty DM. Technology and the brain: what can we learn from our life experience, patient care, social media and internet use? Psychol Cogn Sci. 2017;3:89–93. Scholar
  21. 21.
    Lenhart A. Teens, social media and technology overview. Pew Research Center. April 9, 2015. Accessed 10/8/18.
  22. 22.
    Joshi SV. Teamwork: the therapeutic alliance in pediatric pharmacotherapy. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2006;15(1):239–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Piper Jaffrey. 34th Semi-Annual Taking Stock with Teens® Survey. 2017. Accessed 10/8/18.
  24. 24.
    Seligman MEP, Tierney J. We aren’t built to live in the moment. NY Times; May 17, 2017. Accessed 10/8/18.
  25. 25.
    Greenfield S. Screen technologies. 2013. Accessed 10/8/18.
  26. 26.
    Bianchi A, Phillips JG. Psychological predictors of problem mobile phone use. Cyberpsychol Behav. 2005;8(1):39–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Lamblin M, Murawski C, Whittle S, Fornito A. Social connectedness, mental health and the adolescent brain. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017;80:57–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Morin M. Is your smartphone making you fat and lazy? July 11, 2013. Los Angeles Times. Accessed 10/8/18.
  29. 29.
    Hartmann T, Krakowiak KD, Tsay-Vogel M. How violent video games communicate violence: a literature review and content analysis of moral disengagement factors. Commun Manag. 2014;7751:1–23. Scholar
  30. 30.
    Dee T. The complementarity of teen smoking and drinking. J Health Econ. 1999;18:769–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Becker GS, Murphy K. A theory of rational addiction. J Polit Econ. 1988;96(4):675–700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trends in current cigarette smoking among high school students and adults, United States. 2013. Accessed 10/8/18.
  33. 33.
    Turel O, Serenko A, Giles P. Integrating technology addiction and use: an empirical investigation of online auction users. MIS Q. 2011;35:1043–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Charlton JP, Danforth IDW. Distinguishing addiction and high engagement in the context of online game playing. Comput Human Behav. 2007;23:1531–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Gentile DA, Bailey K, Bavelier D, Brockmyer JF, Cash H, Coyne SM, et al. Internet gaming disorder in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2017;140(Suppl 2):S81–S5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Thorsteinsson EB, Davey L. Adolescents’ compulsive Internet use and depression: a longitudinal study. Open J Depression. 2014;3:13–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. 5th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, Incorporated; 2013.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Ceranoglu TA. Inattention to problematic media use habits interaction between digital media use and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Child Adolesc Clin N Am. 2018;27:183–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Hale L, Kirschen GW, LeBourgeois MK, et al. Youth screen media habits and sleep sleep-friendly screen behavior recommendations for clinicians, educators, and parents. Child Adolesc Clin N Am. 2018;27:229–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Kowert R, Vogelgesang J, Festl R, Quandt T. Psychosocial causes and consequences of online video game play. Comp Human Behav. 2015;45:51–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Glover J, Fritsch SL. Kids, anxiety and social media: a review. Child Adolesc Clin N Am. 2018;27:171–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Guan SSA, Subrahmanyam K. Youth internet use: risks and opportunities. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2009;22:351–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Boydell KM, Hodgins M, Pignatiello A, et al. Using technology to deliver mental health services to children and youth: a scoping review. J Can Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2014;23(2):87–99.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Pew Research Center. Teens, social media, and technology 2018 Accessed 10/8/18.
  45. 45.
    Moreno MA, Jelenchick L, Cox E, et al. Problematic Internet use among US youth: a systematic review. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(9):797–805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Moreno MA, Jelenchick L, Koff R, Eikoff J, Diermyer C, Christakis DA. Internet use and multitasking among older adolescents: an experience sampling approach. Comput Human Behav. 2012;28(4):1097–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Anderson EL, Steen E, Stavropoulos V. Internet use and problematic Internet use: a systematic review of longitudinal research trends in adolescence and emergent adulthood. Int J Adolesc Youth. 2017;22(4):430–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Rafla M, Carson NJ, DeJong SM. Adolescents and the Internet: what mental health clinicians need to know. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2014;16:472–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Maher CA, Lewis LK, Ferrar K, Marshall S, de Bourdeaudhuij I, Vandelanotte C. Are health behavior change interventions that use online social networks effective? A systematic review. J Med Internet Res. 2014;16(2):e40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Newman S. Teens and the internet: how much is too much? 2010. Accessed 10/8/18.
  51. 51.
    Council on Communications and Media. Media use in school-aged children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2016;138(5).Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Dalope K, Woods LJ. Digital media use in families: theories and strategies for intervention. Child Adolesc Clin N Am. 2018;27:145–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    LeBourgeois MK, et al. Digital media and sleep in childhood and adolescence. Pediatrics. 2017;140(Suppl 2):S92–S6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Hoge E, Bickham D, Cantor J. Digital media, anxiety and depression in children. Pediatrics. 2017;140(Suppl 2):S76–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Romer D, Moreno M. Digital media and risks for adolescent substance abuse and problematic gambling. Pediatrics. 2017;140(Suppl 2):S102–S6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Robinson TN, Banda JA, Hale L, Lu AS, Fleming-Milici F, Calvert SL, et al. Screen media exposure and obesity in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2017;140(Suppl 2):S97–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Jelenchick LA, Eickhoff J, Christakis DA, et al. The problematic and risky Internet use screening scale (PRIUSS) for adolescents and young adults: scale development and refinement. Comput Human Behav. 2014;35.
  58. 58.
    Jelenchick LA, Eickhoff J, Zhang C, Kraninger K, Christakis DA, Moreno MA. Screening for adolescent problematic internet use: validation of the problematic and risky internet use screening scale (PRIUSS). Acad Pediatr. 2015;15(6):658–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Moreno MA, Arseniev-Koehler A, Selkie E. Development and testing of a 3-item screening tool for problematic Internet use. J Pediatr. 2016;176:167–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Hilty DM, Srinivasan M, Xiong G, et al. Lessons from psychiatry and psychiatric education for medical learners and teachers. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2013;25:329–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Hilty DM, Snowdy CS, Shoemaker EZ, et al. Social media, e-health and clinical practice: tips for clinicians, guidelines and exploring pathological internet use. Med Res Arch. 2016;3(7). Accessed 10/8/18.
  62. 62.
    My Digital TAT2. This Silicon Valley nonprofit organization focuses on how to build healthy habits, critical thinking, and thoughtful online behavior across the lifespan. Accessed 10/8/18.
  63. 63.
    American Academy of Pediatrics. Family media use plan. Accessed 10/8/18.
  64. 64.
    American Academy of Pediatrics Media and Communication Toolkit. Accessed 10/8/18.
  65. 65.
    Mayhew A, Weigle P. Media engagement and identity formation among minority youth. Child Adolesc Clin N Am. 2018;27:269–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Hilty DM. Advancing science, clinical care and education: shall we update Engel’s biopsychosocial model to a bio-psycho-socio-cultural model? Psychol Cogn Sci. 2016;1(1). Accessed 10/8/18.
  67. 67.
    Bavelier D, Green CS, Dye MWG. Children, wired – for better and for worse. Neuron. 2010;67(5):692–701.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Drouin M, Vogel KN, Surbey A, et al. Let’s talk about sexting, baby: computer-mediated sexual behaviors among young adults. Comput Human Behav Elsevier. 2012;29(5):25–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Internet Safety 101. Accessed 10/8/18.
  70. 70.
    Cox 2014 Internet Safety Survey, 2014. The Futures Company. Accessed 10/8/18.
  71. 71.
    Cyberbullying Research Center. Accessed 10/8/18.
  72. 72.
    Gold J. Screen-smart parenting. How to find balance and benefit in your child’s use of social media, apps, and digital devices. New York: Guilford Press; 2015.Google Scholar
  73. 73.
    Selkie EM, Fales JA, Moreno MA. Cyberbullying prevalence among United States middle and high school aged adolescents: a systematic review and quality assessment. J Adolesc Health. 2016;58(2):125–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018
corrected publication 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford University School of MedicinePalo AltoUSA
  2. 2.Yale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.University of California Davis School of MedicineSacramentoUSA
  4. 4.Northern California Veterans Administration Health Care SystemSacramentoUSA

Personalised recommendations