Our research strategy is focused on executing multi-methods research and disseminating what we learn through reports, publications, speaking engagements, family-focused content, and direct engagement with the tech/media and healthcare industries. 

For the tech and media industry, we seek to embed what we’re learning into the decisions leaders are making every day about product, policy, and user supports to ensure young people’s social, emotional, and mental wellbeing and overall health are at the forefront. 

For the healthcare industry, we share our findings to help clinicians better understand the impacts of interactive media on child and teen health and behavior.

The Digital Wellness Lab operates with a steadfast commitment to academic integrity, ethics, and independence, ensuring that all research endeavors are driven solely by scientific curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge. While our work is supported in part by donations from technology, entertainment, and healthcare companies; philanthropic organizations; and individuals; we do not engage in research for hire or accept funding that could compromise our autonomy or objectivity. We do not evaluate, endorse, or give preference to specific products or platforms.

Areas of Study

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Mental, Social, and Emotional Health

We are working to better understand how engagement with the digital ecosystem affects young people’s mental, social, and emotional health in both positive and negative ways. We aim to identify opportunities to mitigate or eliminate harms and to elevate positive experiences for short- and long-term mental health outcomes for all young people.

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Prosocial Development

Using both survey and experimental methods, we seek to identify how technology and media can be used in innovative ways to promote children’s, teens’, and young adults’ sense of belonging, prosocial behaviors, and their development of social-emotional competencies (such as empathy, self-regulation, self-awareness, social-awareness, and relationship building).

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Problematic Interactive Media Use (PIMU)

Through our close engagement with the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders (CIMAID) and other speciality clinical departments at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, we are working to identify the characteristics and risk factors of PIMU and to design intervention and treatment strategies to promote healthier media habits for youth and their families.

We are particularly interested in understanding the impacts of technology and interactive media through the lenses of  social media, video games, and artificial intelligence (AI), as these are the technologies most often used by youth and most likely to have the greatest impacts.

Research Briefs

Ongoing Research Studies

We conduct longer-form academic research to more deeply explore key questions that are raised through our Pulse Surveys and in our engagement with stakeholders in the digital wellness and tech/media space.

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Studying the social gaming experiences of young people

The Lab is continuing its collaboration with researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Washington to study the gameplay experiences, conceptualizations, emotional drivers, and decision-making processes of children and teens (aged 8-14) who play online multiplayer games such as Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite.

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Studying the impacts of social media on young teens

This study, in collaboration with Wellesley College, will shed light on important components of young teens’ (aged 13-15) social media ecology as well as offer proof-of-concept of the multi-method approach needed to enable funding to include larger, more geographically dispersed adolescent samples.

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Helping clinicians to identify and treat PIMU

In this ongoing project, the Lab is working closely with the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders (CIMAID) team to develop and validate an in-office screener and brief intervention to support clinicians in identifying and treating Problematic Interactive Media Use (PIMU) in primary pediatric settings.

Young girl playing a video game enthusiastically

Investigating the key risks factors for PIMU

This project, a collaboration between the Lab and the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders (CIMAID), entails a clinical chart review investigating commonalities among previous and current CIMAID patients in order to identify key risk factors for Problematic Interactive Media Use (PIMU).