In late 2021, I curated a three-part thematic series of webinars for the Gambling, Gaming and Technology Use (GGTU) program to host in 2022. This series was titled, The Impacts of Digital Technologies on Mental Health and Addictions. Each webinar invited different experts to present on a topic that demonstrates key intersections between technology use and well-being.
The series was comprised of:
- Part 1: ‘Swipe sesh’: Exploring the impacts of dating apps on mental health among adults, presented by Dr. Treena Orchard (Western University) in February 2022. Find Part 1 recording and slides here: https://kmb.camh.ca/ggtu/trainings#webinars-52
- Part 2: Coping with disaster: Mental health, substance use and financial concerns associated with online gambling during COVID-19, presented by Dr. Alex Price (Responsible Gambling Council) in May 2022. Find Part 2 recording and slides here: https://kmb.camh.ca/ggtu/trainings#webinars-98
- Part 3: Bridging the digital divide to optimize health outcomes and experiences for youth, presented by Dr. Skye Barbic (University of British Columbia/Foundry) and Al Raimundo (Foundry) in July 2022. Find Part 3 recording and slides here: https://kmb.camh.ca/ggtu/trainings#webinars-103
Across the series, learning objectives for GGTU’s audience included gaining new knowledge of distinct types of digital technology use and their impacts – knowledge derived from research studies, direct service provision, and lived/living experience. For instance, we heard about how dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have transformed how people connect with each other, while also having the potential to increase negative feelings and harm. We also heard about notable links between online gambling, substance use, and monetary motivations and concerns. We saw a demonstration of an app designed to improve access and reduce barriers to mental health services for young people. And we learned so much more, including how the COVID-19 pandemic has had major effects on the frequency and intensity of varied technology use behaviours.
Although each webinar in this series engaged audience participation through Q&A, if I were to curate another series, I would aim to increase the interactive components through use of technology. One of my favourite moments was the Foundry BC app demo (in Part 3) which had me thinking of how we might bring greater diversity to the digital platforms showcased during our webinars. In a future series, I would also build in greater connections between the invited speakers! Perhaps each speaker could be asked a question like, ‘What do you predict will be the biggest issue in digital technology use affecting the Canadian population in the next five years?’ I have no doubt the answers would highlight important areas for emerging research, policy, and clinical practice. Or perhaps at the end of the series, the speakers could be re-engaged to comment on each other’s topics and identify interesting areas of overlap.
GGTU will continue to increase its professional development and capacity-building activities related to technology use. I can't wait to see what comes next!