TAM Data Consortium

The Technology & Adolescent Mental Wellness program (TAM) is driven by three primary goals. First, we aim to develop community and foster ongoing collaboration. Second, we aim to promote new research on adolescent technology use and mental wellness. Third, we aim to disseminate research findings using both traditional and nontraditional approaches.

The TAM Data Consortium advances the three primary goals of the TAM Program by building an infrastructure and overseeing a process for ethically sharing anonymized research data and cultivating research partnerships between investigators. All research data pertains to technology use and adolescent mental wellness.  As always, TAM’s foundational question is this: How can technology support adolescent mental wellness?

WHy Now?

Data sharing is an increasingly accepted and encouraged practice. The NIH calls data sharing “essential for expedited translation of research results into knowledge, products and procedures to improve human health.” It allows investigators to maximize the value of existing datasets, while also providing new research opportunities for investigators at other institutions.

Research data on youth that pertains to their technology use and mental health is now more necessary than ever; not only has technology use increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, but popular news coverage of adolescent technology use has painted an alarming picture – not always with empirical support.

However, collecting this data often presents challenges to researchers, including troubles with recruitment, consent, privacy, and confidentiality. COVID-19 has also magnified longstanding disparities between more- and less-privileged investigators. The TAM Data Consortium facilitates the sharing of data and creation of research partnerships in the hopes of advancing the research careers of those under-represented in science and improving the mental wellness of adolescents and their families.

With timeliness at the forefront, we are moving our program forward aggressively. With support from the Susan Crown Exchange, we have expedited building the TAM Data Consortium. We are now seeking investigators interested in receiving or sharing anonymized data related to adolescent technology use and wellness.

PROCESS for data recipients

Joining the TAM Data Consortium is simple. Applying to receive data is more complex, as it includes several steps to ensure we adhere to all data sharing standards, rules, and priorities. An overview of the steps includes:

  1. Meet with TAM staff to discuss available datasets
  2. Create a brief research proposal to identify the dataset and variables of interest
  3. Ensure the protection of human subjects through an IRB application to recipient’s home institution
  4. Complete a Data Use Agreement
  5. TAM delivers the anonymized data securely using Box
  6. TAM stays in touch to provide support, share resources related to dissemination, and to learn about products and findings

Interested in sharing data in the TAM Data Consortium? Or, maybe you’d like to collaborate in the use of your data? Here are the next steps:

  1. Meet with TAM staff to discuss dataset and, if applicable, interest in collaboration
  2. Work with your IRB to obtain clearance to share data while protecting human subjects
  3. With TAM’s assistance, prepare the data set and data key for sharing or collaboration
  4. With templates provided by TAM, provide sufficient details about your study such that an investigator unfamiliar with the work could complete a secondary analyses and draft a manuscript.
Data Sources

In 2020, TAM developed and refined a stepwise process for sharing our own research data with other institutions, with oversight from our Institutional Review Board, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and our campus honest broker. In 2021, we have expanded and adapted that process to safely and ethically share our own data, receive others’ research data, and handle data requests. If you would like to share a portion of a dataset with the TAM Data Consortium, or if you would like to collaborate with other investigators in the use of your data, please reach out to tamprogram@pediatrics.wisc.edu.

WHO can join the Data Consortium?

Any investigator interested in research collaborations related to the foundational question can join the consortium. However, TAM Data Consortium seeks specifically to support researchers traditionally under-represented in science, and to help advance research careers of those adversely affected by COVID-19. Thus, prioritized data recipients include sexual, gender, and racial minority researchers, as well as graduate school students and investigators early in their careers. We also support youth in identifying research mentors, alongside whom they can apply to receive data.

TAM Data Consortium availability

1) Available now: The Youth Health and Social Media Study dataset: A large cross-sectional survey dataset of parent-teen dyads measuring 1) technology ownership and use 2) parent-child relationships and 3) mental and physical health.

2) Available soon: The Health and Tech Use dataset: A large cross-sectional survey dataset of young adults (ages 18-25) measuring 1) problematic use of the internet, video games, and social media  2) risk behaviors, health concerns, and mental health conditions that may be associated with these different forms of problematic technology use.

3) Future Directions: Forthcoming data will include a diverse array of qualitative and quantitative data, all pertaining to adolescent technology use and mental wellness.


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