Who We Are

Center Director Nicole Owings-Fonner, MA, PMP, leads a strong internal team of program, communications and mental health professionals. The work of the Center is guided by our Co-Medical Directors, Dr. Megan Moreno and Dr. Jenny Radesky.

Megan Moreno, MD, MPH, MSEd, FAAP

Co-Medical Director

Dr. Moreno is the Interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on 3 core areas: 1) innovative approaches to adolescent health using social media, 2) internet safety education and 3) measuring technology use and misuse. You can follow her team on social media on @SMAHRTeam. Clinically, she is interested in complex medical conditions and the intersection of physical and mental health among adolescents. She is author of a parenting handbook for internet safety based on research and collaborations with the American Academy of Pediatrics and was the lead author on the 2016 policy statement Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents. Dr. Moreno is passionate about helping teens through the challenges around balancing relationships, influences, and experiences, and to consider ways in which technology may provide new venues for education and support.

Jenny Radesky, MD, FAAP

Co-Medical Director

Dr. Radesky is Director of the Division of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School. Her research examines the use of mobile and interactive technology by parents and young children and how this relates to child self-regulation and parent-child interaction. Clinically, her work focuses on autism, ADHD, and advocacy. She has authored American Academy of Pediatrics policy statements on digital media use in early childhood including Media and Young Minds and Digital Advertising to Children. She has two children, 9 and 13 years old, who keep her laughing and humble about media use! Dr. Radesky is excited to bring together her clinical, research, and knowledge experience to the Center’s work. You can follow her on Twitter @jennyradesky.

What We Do

The Center of Excellence on Social Media and Youth Mental Health serves as a centralized, trusted source of evidence and support for children and teens, parents, educators, pediatricians and other professionals who help youth navigate social media.

Imbalances in the benefits and risks of social media use can harm mental health, exacerbate existing health disparities and compound systemic inequities for young people.

By listening to families, partnering with experts and communities and engaging with industry, the Center works to:

  1. Improve the mental health of children and teens by reducing the risks and leveraging the benefits of social media.
  2. Build the capacity of individuals who work with children and teens to mitigate harmful impacts of social media on youth mental health and promote healthy social media use.
  3. Synthesize and promote the evidence base and best practices for healthy social media use via communication, guidance and other resources.

Our Approach

Inherent in the work that we do is a recognition that we need to act now to help youth through the mental health crisis and prevent mental health problems in younger children. At the same time, we strive to avoid reinforcing the dominant polarized discourse (e.g., technology is bad).

Our approach is focused on a new narrative. One that is:

  • Framed around child and adolescent agency and the emotional processes that underlie mental health and wellbeing
  • Built upon existing high-quality evidence; and
  • Prioritizes frameworks that center children and adolescents as the critical point of view.

Our work will:

  • Emphasize children’s innate resilience and unique characteristics that are developmentally adaptive (e.g., curiosity, attraction to novelty, seeking peer reactions) but don’t always interact well with the adult-built environments around them.
  • Create and amplify resources and interventions that are multi-level, involve all stakeholders and relationships children have and address the psychological and sociological factors that shape media use and how children react to it.
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American Academy of Pediatrics