TAM Colloquium 2021

The 2021 Technology and Adolescent Mental Wellness (TAM) Colloquium brought together people from diverse backgrounds. The virtual colloquium was the third annual gathering of this community.

During the first day, TAM grant awardees presented updates on their year 1 and year 2 projects and discussed some of the key takeaways from their experiences.

In 2018, six projects were funded that answered the question: How can technology support adolescent mental wellness? During their second year they were answering the same question in the context of a global pandemic, political unrest, and heightened awareness of the long-standing racism in the United States.

While the awardees were presenting, the community engaged in discussion regarding the obstacles caused by bots in research. This was something that Dr. Yalda Uhls and her team encountered when recruiting for their year 2 study. The community came together to come up with some ideas on how to spot bots in data.

There was also an invigorating discussion about the ins-and-outs of getting IRB approval. Several of the awardees faced IRB challenges and the conversation led to the idea of possibly sharing the experiences and solutions from the group in a publication.

The second day of the colloquium was dedicated to engaging youth in improving adolescent health through research and practice. Youth from the TAM Youth Advisory Board (YAB) shared their perspectives and experiences throughout the day. A group of 15 teens from across the nation make up the TAM YAB. The youth are asked to share their expertise on how to successfully include teens in social media research, what they are observing with their own or their friends’ social media use, and what else they are looking for when working alongside researchers.

The Colloquium always includes presentations from other members of the Madison community and their experiences working with youth. This year the Wisconsin Partnership Program and PATCH presented. They shared their experiences engaging youth even in an online environment and creating safe spaces for youth to lead the way. Most of the youth driven conversations can lead to powerful topics such as mental health, the Black Lives Matter movement, and others. Speakers emphasized that it’s essential to create a safe space before diving into important topics.

A major highlight each year is the youth panel. This year’s panel included discussions about how their technology use has changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many youth found themselves setting their technology aside to spend time outdoors or reading. TikTok was interestingly not a huge part of the conversation, but Discord was a new crowd favorite.

Below, some of the TAM YAB members described what made them interested in getting involved with the program and what they think researchers should be asking about technology and adolescent mental wellness:

For the full 2021 Colloquium agenda visit: