TAM YAB College Panel Highlights

By: Isabel Garlough-Shah

Every month, the Technology & Adolescent Mental Wellness (TAM) Youth Advisory Board (YAB) provides professional learning opportunities to its members. TAM members are given a voice to which professional development topics are provided. For the April 19th meeting this year, TAM members expressed interest in speaking to current undergraduate students to gather insights on navigating the college experience and admissions process. 

Four panelists ranging from freshman to senior undergraduates spoke at the TAM meeting. While panelists had varying majors and research experiences they had similar college insights to share with the YAB. 

Panelists answered initial questions about their background including majors and hometown, but the conversation led to the theme of expectations and how things may change. Reese Hyzer, the TAM YAB Coordinator, asked panelists “What were your aspirations as a high school student, how did that change, and how did you get to where you are now?”

For panelists like Isabel, expectations for college changed greatly. She originally wanted a degree in acting and musical theater. However, after realizing this wasn’t what she wanted to do for a career, she went to UW-Madison with an undeclared major. Her freshman year she discovered her passion for communication research and pursued this path throughout her college career. 

“When I went to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Luckily my freshman year I took a class in Mass Media and Gender and from there I was set down the path of my current majors [Journalism and Mass Communications and Gender and Women studies]. I joined a media content coding job that year and that’s what got me sent down the path of Communication Research” said Isabel.

As discussions continued TAM Members began to ask their own questions. One of the main questions was “How did you choose your college?”

Natasha, TAM YAB alum, spoke on the wide net she casted for college applications. She applied for colleges across the U.S. and abroad to give herself options on programs, culture, and size. Her final decision for the University of Michigan came down to speaking with students at the college and personal preference. 

“I realized I wanted a larger school, a research institution, “school spirit”… Your college is somewhere you’ll be for 3-5 years, so you want it to be somewhere you see yourself being happy. It’s always a good idea to talk to students at the schools you’re interested in to get a more candid look at what attending that college would be like” said Natasha. 

Near the end of the meeting, Reese asked the panelists “How do you balance school-work, friendships, and a job in college?” This led to the resounding answer of “ Google Calendar!” from the majority of panelists.

Panelist Jessica added onto this answer by emphasizing how college is a time to prioritize those life-long friendships! Having a Google Calendar especially helped her navigate the balance of a social life and keeping up with assignments and exams.

Current TAM members are preparing for their upcoming college applications. Because of this one of their biggest questions was “What advice do you have for those who are applying to college?” Natasha had this parting advice. 

“I think for those who are applying to college soon, I understand how stressful and overwhelming the college application process can be, but trust that you will get in somewhere. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and take time to make memories your senior year before you and your friends go off to college” 


TAM Funded Project Updates

By: Garrett Waterman

In 2018 the TAM program funded 6 projects surrounding how technology can support adolescent mental wellness. This work has inspired novel research and built strong communities. Below are highlights of these funded TAM projects and what these groups have been working on since. 

Dr. Celeste Campos Castillo

Dr. Celeste Campos Castillo studied the reluctance of children to alert a parent or guardian that a friend was struggling with social media. Dr. Campos Castillo has also worked to understand how COVID-19 has exacerbated these issues. Today, she is continuing her research on adolescent mental health by analyzing racial and ethnic differences in telehealth


WeRNative’s funded TAM project evaluated multimedia messages for adolescents struggling with suicidal ideation and depression. They work to design effective messaging programs to aid teens in mental health struggles. WeRNative is continuing to develop their website, Q&A, text message service, and social media to build a community and help adolescents with their mental health. 

Dr. Keshet Ronen

Dr. Keshet Ronen’s TAM-funded project sought to understand how group counseling intervention services can prevent depressive symptoms in postpartum adolescents. She developed an intervention program based on de-stigmatization and reduced isolation. Dr. Ronen’s work today includes evaluating a mobile health intervention for early detection of childhood malnutrition in Kenya.  

Media Power Youth

Media Power Youth created a team of high-school students to explore how social media habits shape communication norms of their peer groups. They formed on ongoing advisory board to continue to incorporate youth voices in their social media curriculum. They are continuing to evolve their curriculum based on youth recommendations to boost youth wellness online

Dr. Megan Ranney

Dr. Megan Ranney’s TAM-funded project developed intervention media to prevent adolescent cyber conflict. With feedback from TAM and youth advisory boards, she developed a survey to understand youth technology use patterns before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Ranney is continuing her research to create interventions to prevent peer violence and depressive symptoms among at risk emergency department adolescents.

Dr. Yalda Uhls

Dr. Yalda Uhls, founder of The Center for Scholars and Storytellers, began her TAM-funded project to understand how a popular teen-facing TV show can impact adolescent mental wellness. Dr. Uhls is continuing to develop “second screen content” to better address mental health in entertainment.  

Colloquium Youth

Our Favorite Quotes: 2023 TAM Colloquium Youth Panel

The Technology and Adolescent Mental Wellness (TAM) Colloquium took place on Thursday, January 12, 2023. It was a great opportunity for us to hear from each part of the TAM community including TAM Data Consortium recipients, YAB Initiative groups, and our very own TAM Youth Advisory Board (YAB) panel.

The TAM YAB was created alongside the TAM Community in 2019. Since its inception, we have always tried to include our youth in as many aspects of the conversation around technology and adolescent mental wellbeing as possible. One way we have been reaching this goal is to include each year’s TAM YAB members in a youth panel at the colloquium. We are always in awe of the thoughts and perspectives that our youth share during the panel.

Here are some of our favorite YAB quotes from the TAM YAB panel:

Q: What kind of questions should researchers be asking about social media and mental wellness?

A: Adults focus on the negatives, but there are a lot of positives, such as using it to connect with others.

A: There are different ways to use social media that aren’t talked about. I don’t post as much and follow my favorite celebrities and musicians while others post a lot.

Q: What have been some helpful ways adults have talked to you about technology?

A: It is important to take break and find a balance between screen free activities and screen activities.

A: We want to hear advice about social media from people who actually use it.

Q: What does online safety mean to you?

A: Online safety to me means keeping yourself and your privacy safe online. If you don’t want people to know something, don’t put it online. Be careful who you are talking to and be aware of your digital footprint.

Q: What have been some helpful ways doctors or therapists have talked to you about technology use?

A: I wouldn’t mind my doctor asking me questions about my social media use.

Q: How do you use technology to get yourself out of a bad mood?

A: When I’m in a bad mood I turn to music. I try to avoid TikTok because it is too serious.

A: I tend to like Instagram memes and YouTube when I’m in a bad mood.

A: Sometimes I use social media to get out of regular life.

A: I call a friend.

Q: How do you avoid the ‘bad stuff’ on social media?

A: I block accounts, especially on TikTok, if they make me uncomfortable or are posting about bad things.

For more information about the TAM YAB visit

Youth, Media, Wellbeing

Youth, Media, and Wellbeing Updates

The mission of the Youth Advisory Board for the Youth, Media, & Wellbeing Research Lab is to advise our lab about how to create and sustain the most relevant, timely, and feasible virtual digital wellbeing summer workshop for adolescent girls. Because we intentionally recruited from within our prior summer’s workshop participants, we did not have any difficulty with obtaining a commitment from 8 YAB advisors since we had already established a rapport. We met 7 times for 90 minutes each between December 2021 and July 2022. Our advisors were a diverse group of girls ranging in age from 12-24, since some of them were workshop attendees and others had been small group workshop facilitators. One of the strengths and challenges of our YAB was how diverse it was (e.g., race/ethnicity, geography), particularly in terms of age (3 middle schoolers, 2 high schoolers, and 3 post-high school). During the year, we also invited a Youth Chair who was our lab intern and a senior in college. After the first TAM YAB national meeting, we were inspired by more ideas about being youth-centered and immediately implemented subcommittees that the youth advisors volunteered for. This helped encourage active participation in areas they wanted to personally develop. Highlights of the impact of the YAB include, a) changing the structure of our summer workshop to be shorter each day but last longer (5 days instead of 4), b) test driving workshop lessons and shaping them for age-appropriateness and fun, c) designing a YAB tshirt and creating our logo and motto, and d) helping to redefine what it means to produce a safe all-girls Zoom space. Highlights of the professional development opportunities for the youth advisors included a) co-leading activity intros and ice breakers for the summer workshop ’22, b) Wellesley College tour for teen girls in the local area, c) graduate/professional school panel for the older youth, and d) opportunity to contribute to a book chapter on our inaugural YAB experience.


Youth4Wellness at Yale Updates

While representing Youth4Wellness at Yale at this year’s YAB Colloquium, our team was able to speak on the updates, challenges, and successes of our group.

The central purpose of our youth advisory board is to elevate youth voices and amplify youth-led initiatives to promote mental health and prevent substance misuse in their schools and communities. In our current stage of research,  we are evaluating the usability, accessibility, and feasibility of supportED, a digital game co-created by our youth advisors to prevent suicide in youth who misuse substances.

In the recent launch of our pilot RCT, we have included youth advisors as research assistants in our work. Furthermore, I discussed smaller project-based initiatives that members of our advisory board are working on, which included our bi-annual newsletter and membership development activities, such as a student-led panel, and a self-care workshop.

High engagement and strong youth leadership in the form of tri-chairs have been a strength of our board and have gone well during the process of facilitating our YAB.

In terms of challenges, we shared how our YAB is working on finding the balance between targeted research activities and college- and career-readiness activities. We also realize that youth are busy and while we value our monthly meetings, we wish we had more time to work together.

Our suggestions for developing and maintaining a youth advisory board include numerous opportunities for youth to provide feedback, being flexible with their needs and challenges that are being navigated, and creating a foundation of youth-led leadership and youth-centered voice.


TAM Colloquium Q&A withReese Hyzer: TAM YAB Staff Lead

Written by: Garrett Waterman

The Technology and Adolescent Mental Wellness program (TAM) works to answer the foundational question: How can technology support adolescent mental wellness? . Part of this initiative includes hosting a virtual colloquium split into three segments: the TAM Data Consortium, a TAM Youth Advisory Board panel, and the YAB Initiative. The 2023 virtual colloquium is scheduled for Thursday January 12, 2023. Learn more at

Q: Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Reese Hyzer (she/her), and I’m a client-based researcher on the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT). I graduated from UW–Madison with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and certificates in global health and gender and women’s studies. In 2021, I earned a master’s degree in education and am currently working toward my PhD in school psychology at Loyola University in Chicago.

Q: How would you describe your role within the TAM Program?

I am the staff lead for the TAM Youth Advisory Board (YAB). This means that I am involved in recruiting TAM YAB members, scheduling and facilitating meetings, and helping to incorporate youth voices and perspectives into the TAM Colloquium.

Q: What is the TAM Colloquium in general and why is it important?

The TAM Colloquium is a time for members of the TAM community to come together to learn from each other and collaborate on ways to improve adolescent mental wellness with technology.

Q: Who will be at the Colloquium, and what is a general overview of the day?

A variety of different professionals attend the TAM colloquium. There is a great mix of researchers from different institutions as well as members of the YAB Initiative. Chelsea can tell you more about this!

Q; Why do you think it is important to include adolescents in the discussion?

It’s important to include adolescents because TAM is focused on adolescent mental wellness. Incorporating a youth perspective helps researchers identify topics that are especially relevant to adolescents today and leads to better research overall. The youth panel is also a great way to empower youth to share their own experiences with technology and social media. Oftentimes, adults talk about youth technology use without considering their perspectives. The youth panel allows for adolescents to join in on the conversation as key stakeholders.

Q: What makes you most excited about the 2023 TAM Colloquium?

I am the most excited for the youth panel. We have a great TAM YAB this year, and it’ll be great to hear their thoughts and perspectives about technology and adolescent mental wellness!

Link to Meisi’s blog post [MB1]


2023 TAM Colloquium with Dr. Chelsea Olson

Written by: Meisi Li

The Technology and Adolescent Mental Wellness program (TAM) is a community of stakeholders interested in generating novel research to answer this foundational question: How can technology support adolescent mental wellness? Annually, the community gathers together at the TAM Colloquium, an event to engage in discussions about technology use and mental wellbeing of youth.

Chelsea Olson, PhD, the program lead for the TAM Program, works closely on the TAM Data Consortium and in planning and executing the TAM Colloquium. She has a PhD in educational psychology from UW–Madison, and also serves as a scientist on SMAHRT. Today, we’re delighted to have Dr. Olson provide more information for the upcoming 2023 TAM Colloquium.

Q: Why is the TAM Colloquium important?

A: The goal of the colloquium is to create community, promote new ideas for research and collaborations, and learn about the important work people within TAM are doing.

Q: Who will be at the Colloquium?

A: We welcome anyone who is interested in technology use and the mental wellness of adolescents to attend the colloquium. Members of the TAM community will be in attendance, including researchers at all levels in their careers and education, youth, clinical providers, educators, and those involved in various industries.

Q: What is a general overview of the day?

A: A general overview of the day includes a TAM Data Consortium session, in which recipients of TAM data will present rapid talks on their projects; an expert panel with reporters and researchers led by Dr. Yalda Uhls which will explore how reporters can and do report on technology use and mental wellness; a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) Initiative session, in which groups from around the country who received funds from TAM to start a YAB will present updates on their progress; and last, a Q&A panel with youth from our TAM YAB.

Q: Why do you think it is important to include adolescents in the discussion?

A: When doing research on adolescents, it is important to learn from adolescents about their lived experiences because they know best about what is salient to them and their lives. It is always exciting and invigorating to hear from youth about their experiences and perspectives and how we as researchers can conduct the best possible research on technology use and mental wellness of adolescents.

Q: What makes you most excited about the 2023 TAM Colloquium?

A: I’m excited to learn from the TAM community about the important work they’ve been doing. I also think the panel session with experts and reporters will be a really interesting panel that I will learn a lot from.

The 2023 TAM Colloquium is scheduled for Thursday, January 12, 2023. Interested in attending the colloquium and learning more about the technology use and adolescent mental wellness? Fill out this Qualtrics survey today or email


TAM YAB Spotlight: Shreya

Written by: Garrett Waterman

The Technology and Adolescent Mental Wellness program (TAM) provides students with the opportunity to participate on a youth advisory board where they can be introduced to health research and receive professional development. Youth advisory boards (YAB) allow health researchers to connect and collaborate with adolescents on which aspects of social media affect them the most. To incorporate adolescents into research, their voices must have a platform. To kickstart this initiative I asked one of TAM’s newest YAB members, Shreya, about her experiences with youth advisory boards and her relationship with technology: 

Q: What initially made you want to join a YAB?

“I was initially a part of the IDRA education non-profit organization. I felt that my voice was heard in influencing an education system which directly affects me and my peers”. “I saw TAM YAB as another opportunity to share my perspective – specifically about mental health”.

Q: What drew you to TAM YAB in particular? 

“TAM YAB’s focus on mental health coincides with my interests in health outcomes associated with social media. I hope to learn more about the specific health outcomes affecting youth and their use of technology”

Q: Which aspects of social media/Technology affect you the most?

“I would say the addictive qualities of social media affect me the most. Snapchat and bereal market themselves as more ‘real’ than other social media platforms. People post about where they are and how they look at that moment. It isn’t as curated as something like instagram, but it still has the same addictive qualities that can lead to a reliance on technology. Technology can be a good thing too. I like to see what my friends and cousins are doing, and social media allows you to connect to those people in a  totally different way”

Q: What, in your opinion, should youth’s role be in health research surrounding social media and adolescent health? Are there any aspects of social media that don’t receive enough attention ?

“I feel like researchers should highlight aspects of technology that aren’t immediately obvious. Like the impact that social media has had on beauty standards causes a lot of problems. There is a difference in lived experiences versus sensational videos and personalities”

Q: What do you think of the TAM YAB learning environment so far?

“Everyone was very talkative so that made the meeting engaging and welcoming. The interactive format of the meeting also made me feel more involved”

Click to learn more about TAM YAB.


The Benefits of Collaboration: TAM Data Consortium

With the advent of the ever increasing importance of technology in daily life, many people are questioning the effects of this relatively new medium. In this new digital age, the majority of Americans are spending a significant portion of their time in front of a screen. While many news outlets fixate on the metric of screen time, The Technology and Adolescent Mental Wellness Program (TAM)  is committed to providing nuanced research to better understand the impact of technology and its effects on wellbeing. Part of this initiative includes the formation of the TAM Data Consortium: A robust infrastructure that oversees the ethical sharing of anonymized data surrounding youth, technology, and wellbeing. Collaboration with the TAM Data Consortium allows researchers early in their career and those from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in science access to data without the barrier of data collection. This leads to development and dissemination of new literature based on empirical data.

Dr. Jessica Hamilton, assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers, is a part of the TAM Data Consortium. Her work, exploring the “Associations Between Social Media, Bedtime Technology Use Rules, and Daytime Sleepiness among Adolescents,” utilized the large,  multivariable dataset available within the consortium. Hamilton argues that perceived importance of social media and parental guidelines surrounding social media use are connected. Her findings, which concluded that “social media affects sleepiness and having rules around technology use at bedtime can reduce these effects,” can be found at JMIR Mental Health. Additionally, guidelines which regulate perceived social media importance may aid in “[improving] social media use, sleep, and mental health” among adolescents.

Dr. Libby Matile Milkovich, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, joined the consortium in 2020. With help from the TAM Data Consortium and access to the Youth Health and Social Media dataset, Dr. Milkovich presented her research on “Parent problematic internet use associated with youth problematic internet use” at the Pediatric Academic Society’s 2022 international conference. This conference represents thousands of pediatricians, health care providers, and researchers committed to improving adolescent well-being through multidisciplinary collaborations.  

Dr. Brittany Allen, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Department of Pediatrics, is also part of the TAM Data Consortium. Her work assesses the digital interactions of transgender, non-binary, and gender diverse youth. There are currently two manuscripts submitted on the topic. The first covers the “connections between psychosocial measures and digital media use in TNG youth.” Published in August of 2021, it found that problematic internet use within the transgender community may not be “unilaterally driven by problematic factors among TNG youth.” More information can be found at  JMIR Publications. The second, currently in a state of review, describes “problematic technology use and technology interactions seen in these TNG youth.”

 Along with access to 65 variables and thousands of participants, the TAM Data Consortium provides opportunities to collaborate with other researchers well versed in youth, technology, and mental health. This topic based approach to research allows for multidisciplinary studies which benefit from numerous, unique perspectives. From developing a research question to isolating specific variables, TAM Data consortium members are encouraged to work alongside the Technology and Adolescent Mental Wellness program (TAM) and the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) in adding to this relatively young field of study. With access to both parent and adolescent variables, the consortium allows researchers to publish unique, empirically based perspectives on problematic internet use, household tech rules, and social media addiction. These variables empower fledgling researchers with the tools they require to improve their analytical skills and become a part of the growing literature surrounding youth, mental wellness, and social media.


Why youth advisory boards are important

Written by: Meisi Li

According to UNICEF, today about 16% of the world’s population is comprised of adolescents, more than ever before. At the same time, the world faces an unprecedented number of risks for adolescents, a need for more diverse voices, and opportunities for great creative potential from youth. A Youth Advisory Board (YAB) provides a space for these risks, voices, and potential as an important way for adolescents to engage in discussions about scientific research and social issues.

Different organizations can benefit from working with youth based on their themes and goals by regularly listening to youth suggestions on relevant issues or projects. Want to know more about why YABs are so important? This article provides seven insights into the importance of YABs from the perspective of board organizers, especially those in research.

1. YABs are consistent with society’s goal of developing decent citizens. UNCRC Article 12 states that adults should take children’s voices seriously and consider their evolving capacities. Some analyses suggest that using the right to express and be heard during maturation facilitates the realization of all rights and prepares children and adolescents for active social participation later in life. A YAB creates a space for adolescents to express their views and know that what is said matters and will be understood.

2. YABs reduce the distance between the research team and the public, and increase the visibility of the research. YABs help to break the misconceptions that scientific research is inaccessible and allows adolescents to realize that every insight or suggestion they have has the potential to turn into an important research question. The adolescents’ willingness to share their experiences makes it likely that the YAB will serve as a bridge between the team and the public.

3. YAB members can share new insights with the team. With the rapid growth of the internet and various social movements in recent years, adolescents growing up amidst these trends can help academics explore potential research opportunities and keep researchers updated with changes. On the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) for example, YAB members help researchers better understand important social media topics such as, TikTok and Snapchat, which have emerged in recent years.

4. A YAB can increase the realizability of research and maximize the use of research results. Every research project requires considerable time, effort, and resources, so researchers want to maximize their research results and contribute to real-world problem-solving. In addition to providing new ideas for proposed projects in the early stages, youth involvement in ongoing projects or reflection and discussion of completed projects is also valuable. Especially for adolescent health-related research, YAB members’ suggestions can help place ongoing or completed projects in the actual context.

5. A YAB helps achieve team sustainability and provides career development opportunities for participants. Most research teams are optimistic about adolescents who have participated in their YAB formally joining the team at a later stage. Because YAB members are more familiar with the organization’s research focus and structure, and have been exposed to the process of conducting research through their involvement in the YAB. This sustainability allows for continuity and greater efficiency in team research, and youth participants also gain a more stable academic and career development, which is a mutually beneficial process.

6. A YAB increases the cultural background and diversity of the team. In recent years, the academic community has placed more emphasis on providing opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups. Along with this awareness, YAB is highly likely to increase team diversity in multiple dimensions such as ethnicity, gender, and age or experience. A diverse perspective makes it possible for research projects to fully consider the potential directions and possible limitations.

7. Communication and information sharing among YABs can advance adolescent health research. There are many YABs across the country with different themes and organizational structures, ranging from social movements to scientific research, from local communities to national recruitment of members. YABs with the same goals can likewise have different research focuses. In the case of the SMAHRT-sponsored YAB Initiative, 14 YABs across the country are closely focused on youth health-related topics, but each has its focus, such as the field of medicine, gender minority groups, racial discrimination, etc.