Adolescents: Are We Prepared?

In 2004, the Keiser Report noted that 74 percent of young people aged 8 to 18 years had access to the Internet (Foehr & Rideout, 2005). In 2015, the Internet is readily available to even more children and teens. Through their smartphones, tablets, laptops, notebooks, game consoles, and any other gadget capable of connecting to the Internet, youth have access to a variety of resources and information without even being connected to a desk. Recently there has been considerable attention paid to whether this accessibility is a challenge or a fortuitous opportunity for clinicians working with adolescents. A great deal of the research focuses on the negative influences of the Internet and smartphones on today’s youth, such as a decline in physical health, strained family relationships, and a decline in academic grades, among other things (Guan & Subrahmanyam, 2009). However, instead of focusing on the negative, how could we use this technological union to assist in communication and provide mental health treatment and services for today’s youth? Recent research suggests that young people prefer alternative, nontraditional forms of psychotherapy and intervention, such as videoconferencing or Internet applications (Boydell et al., 2014). Interestingly, a review of the literature found that 29% of those aged 4 years to 12 years preferred a television “doctor” to a real doctor (Elford et al., 2001, as cited in Boydell et al., 2014). Furthermore, adolescents note that telemedicine applications seem to balance the scales of power and allow the teenager to feel more comfortable in discussing mental health concerns (Boydell et al., 2014).

Use the following key words in the Google or Google Scholar search engine: Adolescence and Internet and Mental Health Apps. After following the search directions for the suggested key words related to the topic of technology and mental health, consider the questions below. Then submit your responses.

Question 1


Question 2


Question 3


Question 4

Answers will vary. One possibility: I would consider the value system of an adolescent’s parents and their house rules related to technology, and the adolescent’s access to Internet and phone.

Question 5

Answers will vary. One possibility: One possible benefit would be real-time monitoring of symptoms; a potential risk would be an inappropriate use of the Internet that might result in ineffective treatment outcomes.

Note: Web links in this activity lead you to external sites. Some URLs change frequently and may appear as broken links. If you encounter a broken link, try searching for the article or organization in your Web browser or click here to see if a replacement link is provided. To report a broken link, contact technical support through the help option in LaunchPad.