New generations of youth are coming of age at a time when digital technology is omnipresent, where devices are our constant companions, extensions of ourselves. It is not yet fully known what effect this mass consumption of digital technology will have on current and future generations. Although not entirely negative, dramatic shifts in human interaction and wellbeing have already presented themselves, begging understanding. Among these shifts are rising rates of youth struggling with mental health – especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Various international and domestic governing bodies highlight the importance of this burgeoning field of research, turning in part to our technology-loaded ecosystems for answers. Early research has established associations between increased digital screen usage and youth mental ill-health. Questions remain, however and there exist large gaps in counselling psychology research and professional practice as to how we can best support youth in the digital age. This presentation seeks to fill these gaps, providing educators and practitioners with the latest skills, practices, and information with regard to adolescent screen use and their well-being.
A recently published qualitative master’s thesis is presented, one that focused on centering youth perspectives to understand the relationship between youth screen use and their mental health. This presentation first highlights existing literature on the topic, then briefly discusses the current study’s method before diving into the important findings and implications for clinical practice. Because digital technology consumption on this scale is so new, this is one of the first available cohort of youth to actively participate in the exploration of the topic. Their unique voices are not only benefitting broader societal understandings of the impact constant screen use has on mental health, but the technical know-how of those directly supporting youth today.
This session is full.
Sydney is a Master's in Counselling Psychology graduate student at the University of Victoria. Having successfully completed her clinical practica and coursework, Sydney has focused on her thesis research, studying the effects of digital technology use on youth mental health. Sydney has interviewed adolescents from across British Columbia, seeking their perspectives on the relationship between their device use and their well-being. Sydney's thesis research is some of the first of its kind, as it qualitatively provides in-depth analysis as to the role of new and accrescent digital tech on the mental health of young people today.
In addition to research and coursework, Sydney has completed clinical practica with both Child and Youth Mental Health at the Ministry of Child and Family Development and Family Services of Greater Victoria. She holds a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) graduate scholarship for her research, a University of Victoria President's Research Scholarship, and was named a Rising Star in Psychology upon undergraduate graduation. With a deep understanding and appreciation for the unique obstacles youth face today, Sydney is passionate about supporting young people, families, and the health of communities through both research and clinical practice.