Speaker: Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH

Adolescent Medicine, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Principal Investigator,
Division of Adolescent Medicine Seattle Children’s Hospital, Center for Child Health
Behavior and Development, Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team

Dr. Megan Moreno, MD, MS Ed, MPH

The major causes of morbidity and mortality for US youth include accidents, homicide and suicide. Health risk behaviors such as substance use or ongoing illnesses such as depression have been consistently identified as risks for morbidity and mortality. Determining who is at risk for these behaviors and illnesses remains challenging, in part because adolescents infrequently have contact with healthcare providers. Social media may present novel opportunities for researchers, healthcare providers and caregivers to better understand adolescents’ health risk behaviors. Adolescents and young adults are among the voracious users of social media, with almost a quarter of adolescents describing themselves as “constantly connected” to the internet. This talk describes four different research approaches that can inform our understanding of adolescent risk behaviors. These research approaches include:

  1. Observation of social media data including individual risk behavior displays, patterns over time, displays within peer groups and displays at the population level.
  2. A second area of research is understanding the associations between online displays and offline behaviors.
  3. A third area of research is determining what types and how much influence social media displays exert on adolescents and their decisions about behaviors.
  4. Finally, a promising area of research is the use of social media for interventions to improve adolescent health outside of the clinic setting. This talk concludes with an understanding that social media provides both new challenges and new opportunities in adolescent health.
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