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New UNC-Chapel Hill research center to examine the link between technology use and adolescent mental health :: WRAL.com


A $10 million gift from the Winston Family Foundation will help fund a new research center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to examine the long-term effects of technology and social media use. association for adolescent development.

The Winston National Center for Technology Use, Brain Development, and Psychology will create more tools for parents, caregivers and youth to make more informed choices about how they interact with technology and social media. The gift is expected to build on three years of research focusing on the link between technology use and adolescent mental health.

“Clearly we need to know more about the impact of social media experiences and device use on mental health,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Prime Minister Kevin M. Guskiewicz said in a news release. “Carolina-based researchers are leading the way in this emerging field, and this gift from Dr Winston and the Winston Family Foundation will power the scientific discoveries we need.

“We can develop our knowledge in a way that better equips our children and society to navigate an evolving, but sometimes dangerous, landscape of technology and media. social media.”

Mobile phone

The director of the Winston Family Foundation, Dr. James Winston Jr, has decades of experience in the field of addiction, according to a release from UNC-Chapel Hill. Winston found an “alarming correlation” between increased use and equipment additions. It led to the 2018 start of what was originally called the Winston Family Initiative for Adolescent Brain Development and Technology, in partnership with the university.

Scientific director of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Mitch Prinstein, UNC-Chapel Hill Associate Professor of Psychology, Dr. Eva Telzer and their team are expected to pursue a five-point mission. The focus is on education, outreach, research, public health and youth participation. Preliminary research by the team indicates that teenagers spend more than eight hours a day on mobile phones, with a significant portion of the time on social media. The Winston National Center plans to further explore the links between adolescents’ online behavior and a range of mental health symptoms.

“The teen years mark rapid brain development that makes adolescents very sensitive to their environment,” says Telzer. “Technologically mediated contexts ‘regenerate’ the developing brain.

“Scientific research, like ours, will hopefully create an impetus to monitor, monitor and regulate more social media platforms.”

Research by Statista shows that that as of June 2020, 63% of parents in the US said their teens spend more time on social media than they did before the pandemic.

“The goal of the center is to help families and educators understand how increased technology use shapes children,” says Winston. “We have found that high levels of device use and social media consumption alter neurobiological development in ways that may be detrimental to health,”

Winston said he has seen reports of an increase in mental health problems, shorter attention spans, lack of empathy and lack of critical thinking.

The gift also established the first conferred professorship in the departments of psychology and neuroscience, the Winston Family Distinguished Professorship.

The family of the late James H. Winston – a lifelong businessman and philanthropist in Jacksonville, Florida – founded the Winston Family Foundation in 2018. The foundation’s mission is to raise awareness and catalyze social change. through support for scientific research, educational initiatives and partnerships, and support for youth and the arts.



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