Conversations with Clinicians: Deirdre Logan, PhD

Conversations with Clinicians: Deirdre Logan, PhD

Director, Psychology Services in Pain Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital

Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School

What does a typical day look like for you in your role of Pediatric Psychologist at Boston Children’s Hospital?

I do a mix of clinical care, research, and administration. On clinical days I spend the morning in our multidisciplinary new patient assessment clinic for patients with chronic pain.In the afternoons I offer individual and family cognitive behavioral therapy. Administrative time entails lots of meetings about program development and ongoing maintenance. Research includes both observational survey research and interventions. All are focused on improving the lives of youth with complex chronic pain conditions.

What led you to this work?

I have had a lifelong interest in working with children, and a strong interest in the intersection between medicine and mental health.

What are the greatest opportunities you see for kids growing up in a digitally-saturated world?

The current state of technology offers tremendous opportunities to deliver care more widely and efficiently — we can get coping tools into the hands of many more kids regardless of whether they are able to present in a medical setting. It also allows us new ways to address problems. For example, my own work is focused on using virtual reality to help kids in a hospitalized setting “experience” a return to school while being actively supported in treatment. More generally, I think there are great opportunities for being more socially connected.

What are the greatest challenges you see for kids growing up in a digitally-saturated world?

It is far too easy for kids to become addicted to technology and become lost in online worlds. There are far too many insidious social media experiences that increase vulnerability to mental health problems and not enough regulation or oversight into practices and access.

How would you change or design technology and/or media to be healthier for kids across the developmental span?

Limit access to social media content and make it easy for parents to monitor (or harder for kids to evade parental monitoring).

What guidance or advice do you have for parents and other caregivers to help kids to build and maintain healthy behaviors around digital media and technology?

  1. Scaffold exposure and be clear as a parent that you are entitled to, and will, monitor tech use and communication. 
  2. Review your child’s media access with them. Discuss potential problems and how to avoid them. 
  3. Help your child learn ways to verify information and help them understand the concept of “curated” content (e.g., everyone is not having fun without them all the time). 
  4. Set limits and require other types of activity.