UO team contributes to new outlines for tech use by teens

UO researchers are among the contributors to a new report that recommends regulations and policies for digital technology to promote positive development for young adolescents.

Professors Jennifer Pfeifer and Nick Allen are members of the National Scientific Council on Adolescence, part of the UCLA Center for the Developing Adolescent. The report, “Engaging, Safe, and Evidence-Based: What Science Tells Us About Helping Early Adolescents Learn and Thrive Online,” explores ways to ensure that online spaces are accessible, equitable, safe and supportive of positive development and well-being.

Both Pfeifer and Allen are faculty members in the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Allen also is the Ann Swindells Professor in Clinical Psychology.

“The period from about 10 to 13 is a really interesting window when kids are transitioning into adolescence while also starting to explore a wider, less-supervised online world,” said Pfeifer, who is co-director of the council. “We wanted to highlight the kinds of policies that research suggests could amplify the benefits of tech while reducing risks for young users.”

The authors point to several findings:

  • Digital technology could boost well-being and online safety for middle-school-aged youth by using research-based standards to design with youth in mind.
  • The new research could help policymakers and digital technology companies promote positive development and limit harm.
  • Applying that knowledge to online spaces creates an opportunity to protect young people where they spend much of their time.

In addition, the report offers recommendations including that all adolescents have reliable access to the level of digital connectivity and devices required to fully participate in their education and learning.

UO professor Leslie Leve, the Lorry Lokey Chair in the College of Education, is also a member of the national council.