Social Media Use in Teens

The role of technology in the lives of teenagers is important for researchers to understand, especially for a project like SOVA. The Pew Research Center released some very interesting statistics from a pool of 1060 teens aged 13-17 years old from across the United States- investigating their use of social media.

4510214663_8271b56543_o elvissa via Compfight cc

The results, unsurprisingly, showed that more than half of teens (56%) are online several times a day. As far as what teens are doing when they are online the survey showed that they are using social media, with Facebook being the most popular website (71%) followed by Instagram (52%) and Snapchat (41%). The study also found that 71% of teens are using more than one social network which is great news for SOVA as we try to integrate our site into the online lives of teens and young adults.

The Pew Research Center will soon be releasing the data they collected from parents of teens – which will be valuable for helping us understand how parents use social media for WiseSOVA.

Culture’s Role in Identifying and Treating Depression

Hi, Friends!

As public health advocates, we are constantly concerned  with cultural competencies and addressing the unique needs of those we serve.  The Kaiser Health News recently published an article that showcases culture’s role in identifying depression and seeking treatment.  Research has shown that Asian Americans are more likely to consider suicide than their white counterparts.  Depression among this frequently overlooked and understudied population segment is particularly challenging due to the cultural barriers that stand in the way of diagnosing and treating the condition.  The article notes that depression is often not seen as a brain disease and is typically stigmatized due to the high standards that are set within the culture.  The author illustrates this through an incredibly poignant story of an adolescent Asian American girl’s struggle with depression and the challenges she faced when confronting her family regarding her mental health needs.

Please take a look and share your thoughts on issues you have faced relating to cultural competencies and overlooked and under-served population segments.

Lastly, don’t forget about our collaboration page and please provide us with your feedback whenever you have a moment!



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Using Crowdsourcing in Online Social Networks to Combat Depression

Greetings, Friends!

WIRED Magazine recently published an article that discusses MIT’s Robert Morris and his unique and exciting research on crowdsourcing  a peer-to-peer cognitive reappraisal platform.  Similar to SOVA, Morris’s project is aimed at improving the mental health of those struggling with depression by using a web-based intervention.  The intervention, Panoply, is an interactive platform that relies on evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy as a means to reframe and reassess negative thoughts.  Panoply provides an electronic platform for posting content, responding to others, and receiving responses.  On the front end, users can use this as a tool in their cognitive behavioral therapy.  On the back end, Mechanical Turk provides sincere, human-based interactions.  Looking ahead, Morris and his start-up team at Koko are currently working toward developing Panoply into a consumer app.

Do any of you already know of research using Mechanical Turk or other crowdsourcing measures to reach end users?  What do you think about Robert Morris’s research?  Is there anything you think the SOVA team can learn from what he has done?

We want to know your thoughts!

Texting as a Tool: Creative Interventions

Hi Everyone!

We wanted to follow up on one of our posts last month, Texting That Saves Lives.  Just to recap, Nancy Lublin did a fabulous job at showcasing texting as a powerful tool to reach adolescents struggling with depression.  Recently, NPR published a related article that discusses using texting as a public health intervention.  The article below provides insight on how a pilot program, NYC Teen Text, will use texting as a tool to design a creative intervention to implement at 10 New York public high schools.  Let us know your thoughts!  Are any of you currently using texting to reach adolescents with depression?  Are the methods similar or different?  We want to hear from you!

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Collaboration Projects Coming Soon…

Hi everyone!

Pretty soon we will be unrolling some projects on the collaboration page. Expect to see a wiki-style space for working together on various activities. We plan to keep this fairly private in that those who are interested in participating will need to use the password sent in our weekly emails to access to the collaborative aspects of our site.  If you don’t already receive weekly emails, please email and let us know. We also plan to keep all related posts private and only visible to the collaborators. We are super excited to take this next step, as the success of our work is extremely dependent upon your support and feedback.

Stay tuned and we look forward to hearing what you have to say!


2015 White House Student Film Festival

Happy Spring, Folks!

We wanted to tell you about an awesome project that came out of the White House earlier this month.  Last week, President Obama and his staff unrolled the Student Film Festival to showcase videos illustrating the impact  of giving back through the eyes of teens around the nation.  Students around the country have used this opportunity as a venue to exercise their creative energy and inspire those around them.  Please tune in to witness a truly moving glimpse into the overlooked reality of students living in this country today.


Texting That Saves Lives: Nancy Lublin’s fascinating Ted Talk on the incredible power of texting

Check out Nancy Lublin’s TED Talk on the incredible power of using texting to collect real-time behavioral data from teens.  Nancy discusses the prevalence of texting among teens, noting that not only are 3000-4000 text messages sent a month, but those texts are opened 100% of the time.  She tells the story of why and how a crisis text line was created for teens, and discusses the success has had with texting over emailing.  Nancy suggests we all start seriously considering this powerful tool when communicating with young adults and teens struggling from depression.





Team Spotlight: Alex DeMand

Meet Alex DeMand, researcher at the University of Pittsburgh as well as a Masters of Science in Applied Developmental Psychology student.  We interviewed Alex to find out a little more about her as well as gain some insight about our project.



What are your educational aspirations?

My educational aspirations, as of now, are to graduate with my Master’s in Applied Developmental Psychology. After a few years, I’d like to reapply to graduate school to attain my Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. I am interested in working with individuals with developmental disorders like Autism in clinical and community settings.

Where do you see yourself in your career 10 years from now?

I see myself still in the field of research and hopefully working with clinical populations. I’d like to be working somewhere out in California closer to my family also!

What personal goals are you working toward right now?

I am working on graduating with my Master’s in Applied Developmental Psychology, and working on writing a couple of manuscripts. In the upcoming year I am hoping to also start riding my bike more and maybe start a blog of my own about everyday environmentalism!

What do you like about the SOVA project?

What I like most about the SOVA project is the online platform. I think this is a really unique way to reach out to a whole array of people to create an online community of supportive people. I really like that users get to contribute to the site and start honest and sincere conversations with each other. I think that the SOVA project is using technology, and it’s role in the lives of people, to its advantage.

What do you think are some of the barriers to the project gaining speed?

I think that the largest barrier, like with any website, is trying to get the first users onto the website is very difficult. I think that once users start to explore the website and contribute to the conversations and content of the website- this will make the website hard to slow down!

What do you think are some of the strengths the project already has?

There are so many strengths of the project! We have an awesome online platform that we are working from which enables the website to be user friendly and filled with interesting and insightful knowledge. The SOVA project also has an awesome and supportive research team that is ready to work online with the users.

Depression and Social Networking Sites

Hi Everyone!

Recently the Huffpost wrote about how Facebook has new ways to connect people who may mention suicidal statements in their status updates with resources that can help. This is especially relevant as young people do display depressive symptoms on social media.  Currently, 1 out of 4 adolescents are updating their statuses with signs of depression. Research is beginning to pop up that suggests we could use data mining to identify suicidal language on social networking sites.  Because of these trends, popular sites are beginning to address the issue of suicidality-related posting., a social action site for young people, created a crisis text line site that offers support for young people 24/7. 

Have any of you heard of other organizations that have found creative ways to address these issues? 

What do you think about these initiatives, and how can they be improved?

We want to know your thoughts!   



Supporting Our Valued Adolescents