BooTStRaP: innovative research to reduce the impact of digitalisation on children’s mental health in Europe

We are excited to announce our involvement as members of the Impact Advisory Board, in the new BooTStRaP programme (Boosting Societal Adaptation and Mental Health in a Rapidly Digitalising, Post-Pandemic Europe), a five-years multi country research programme in Europe (2023-2028) co-funded by the European Union, the Swiss government and the UK’s national innovation agency. BooTStRaP brings together a multidisciplinary consortium of Universities, Hospitals, Public Mental Health Institutes, scientists and experts aimed at initiating health and social policy and practice change designed to reduce the harmful effects of digitalisation on mental health for children and young people.

Adolescents, in particular aged 12 to 16 years are at particularly high risk of digital technology overuse and are disproportionally affected by the Problematic Usage of the Internet (PUI), therefore they are vulnerable to its potential harmful effects on their mental health. The PUI can be conceptualised as a marker of ‘disrupted self-management’ and encompasses a wide range of repetitive disabling behaviors characterised by compulsivity and addiction. These include, but are not limited to, internet gaming, cyberbullying,compulsive online sexual behaviors/ cyberpornography, among others.

The BooTStRaP programme will provide unprecedented scientific knowledge on the psychological mechanisms underlying (risk for) PUI and potential interventions. Improved self-management and tools to optimise healthy internet usage will promote mental health, prevent mental ill in adolescents, and contribute to reducing stigma. In the long run, BooTStRap will thus contribute to empowering young people to self-manage their internet usage patterns and improve their mental wellbeing across Europe.

For more info, please visit the BooTStRap programme website