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Summit panelists from YAP

During a discussion titled “Building a Healthy Digital Ecosystem,” panelists explored challenges, best practices for creating positive user experiences and what teenagers see as the positives and negatives of social media. Panelists (from left) included: Viraj Doshi, from Snap; Wendy Matheny, from Pinterest; Amanda Lenhart, from Common Sense Media; Bansi B., a high school senior and YAP member; Lanie F., a high school junior and YAP member; and moderator David Polgar, from All Tech is Human.

Summit brings together teens, experts for discussions on healthy media use

July 1, 2024

A summit hosted by the AAP Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health brought together youth advisers, industry professionals and digital health advocates to discuss how to ensure online spaces are safe and healthy for children and adolescents.

Kicking off the summit in Washington, D.C., AAP CEO/Executive Vice President Mark Del Monte, J.D., emphasized its timeliness.

“Social media use among America’s young people is nearly universal,” Del Monte said. “This work that we’re doing today has never been more relevant or more important — never more necessary.”

Presenters included AAP President Benjamin D. Hoffman, M.D., FAAP, and Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and a co-lead on the Biden administration’s Kids Online Health and Safety Task Force. Dr. Delphin-Rittmon discussed SAMHSA’s ongoing work studying social media habits among young people and called for changes to platforms’ algorithms.

Jenny Radesky, M.D., FAAP, and Megan A. Moreno, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.Ed., FAAP, co-medical directors of the center, emphasized its collaborative, constructive approach.

“We know that just giving people more guidance does not help with more equity and doesn’t help create more change when families are really struggling,” Dr. Radesky said. She highlighted the need to reach families where they are and not add “noise” to the digital health ecosystem.

Drs. Moreno and Radesky outlined an evidence-based approach for healthy media consumption for youth of all ages using a new resource called 5 C’s of Media Use. The 5 C’s — Child, Content, Calm, Crowding Out and Communication — give parents practical questions to address as they navigate digital media use in their families. Questions include “Who is your child, how do they react to media and what are their motivations for using it?” and “What does media use get in the way of?” The 5 C’s also serve as a mnemonic to help pediatric clinicians discuss media with families.

Attendees also divided into breakout groups to discuss hypothetical case studies on challenges presented by social media. The case studies covered issues such as cyberbullying, eating disorders and LGBTQ+ digital communities. Using the 5 C’s as a framework, each group shared their perspectives and experiences using social media and proposed solutions to each scenario.  

In the afternoon, two members of the center’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP), representatives from Pinterest and Snap and a researcher from Common Sense Media took part in a panel discussion titled “Building a Healthy Digital Ecosystem.” Panelists discussed challenges in the digital ecosystem, best practices for creating positive user experiences and what teenagers see as the positives and negatives of social media.

YAP members lead the way

The summit also marked the first in-person meeting of the YAP, a diverse group of 20 adolescents ages 14-19 who provide thought leadership and guidance on the center’s work. The YAP creates content and provides feedback to ensure materials created by the center resonate with children and teenagers.

“My favorite part about the Youth Advisory Panel is being able to find this balance and come up with ways to still be able to use social media as a teenager while creating healthy boundaries and creating lifelong habits,” said Ryan L., who said his experience as a social media user who is blind provides him a unique perspective on the digital world.

Other YAP members said they appreciated the opportunity to be heard by adults on an issue about which they care deeply.

“Being a part of this group has taught me many important lessons,” said YAP member Lily M. “One of the most useful things, though, was learning how to communicate with adults around me in such a way that I knew I was understood and taken seriously without being rude.”

Taanvi A. said she benefited from hearing different perspectives during the summit.

“I had a lot of great experiences in the breakout room, just hearing people talk in general,” Taanvi said. “Hearing that each person’s an advocate from the field that they came through, but also… not to view the person as their job title. But more than that to view them as a human with their background, their experiences.”

The center will create additional educational content for parents, providers and other stakeholders informed by the discussions that took place during the summit.

Get Out the Vote campaign

The AAP is launching a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaign to encourage pediatricians and the families they serve to make their voices heard in the Nov. 5 elections.

Consequential elections are taking place at all levels of government, from the presidency to the state and local levels. Many states also will vote on ballot initiatives pertaining to key child health issues like gun violence prevention and reproductive rights.

The AAP emphasizes that voting is a matter of public health, especially for minoritized and medically vulnerable communities that suffer most from policies that put children’s health in jeopardy. Voting is a way to ensure all families have equitable access to the resources and opportunities that drive good health.

AAP members will have several opportunities to engage their communities leading up to the November elections. Members can visit to find voting preparation checklists, a toolkit of resources and campaign prompts for AAP chapters looking to engage in GOTV work.

The AAP plans to continue engaging voters throughout election season, including at the 2024 National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Fla., which takes place Sept. 27-Oct. 1, ahead of states’ voter registration deadlines.

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