The impact of technology on children’s mental health is a timely issue; three-quarters of households with young children own some kind of mobile device, from smartphones to tablets, and some children from the age of 2 have their own. Children choose to play with devices over toys and will then successfully block out their environment. The influence of technology on healthy development is not known, yet scaremongering in the media often cites violent videogames as a cause of antisocial behaviour in adolescence. Furthermore, social networking sites are sometimes blamed for depression and anxiety in children and young adults. Research suggests that playing computer games for over two hours a day is correlated to psychological difficulties. However, although technology is deemed as unhealthy by some, it can also be beneficial to those with mental health needs. Norman Lamb, Care and Support Minister, has earmarked £2 million for children and young people to use tablet computers in therapy sessions. This allows them and their therapist instant access to  treatment goals whilst also tracking their progress. Research has also been conducted  using computerized CBT in children and adolescents with depression and help those with autism express themselves and engage with others. Professor Tanya Byron, who wrote a governmental review on the use of video games and the Internet by children, concludes that some technologies can be helpful for development, and others should be managed and policed by parents.

This conference will address both the positive and negative impacts technology can have on mental health in children and adolescents, from cyber-bullying and pro-anorexia and –bulimia websites, to using technology to monitor depression and encourage social interactions in children with autism spectrum disorder. Delegates are encouraged from psychology and computational research fields and health related backgrounds. This conference will be of specific interest to those with backgrounds in abnormal, developmental and clinical psychology.

 

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