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Technology Essay

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Throughout the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Strategic Plan (2007), there is repeated mention of the need for “novel and innovative research” and focus on “personalized” preventative and therapeutic approaches. In addition, their strategic plan emphasizes the need for more efficient methods for conducting research and expedited dissemination of programs that are shown to improve outcome and adherence.

In our own practices, schools, and clinics, we have witnessed our current child and adolescent population interacting with new technology in a way that could almost be described as instinctual. These youth are the first of a new generation who have been raised with regular access to a combination of personal computers, the Internet, and portable devices equipped with mobile media (including cell phones, iPods, portable gaming, and other hand held devices).

Instead of the informal hanging-out spaces of the school, mall, home, or street, these new generations are also employing "contemporary social media” to create the new “primary institutions” (p. 39) of peer culture (Digital Youth Project 2008). They are connecting and hanging out through the use of technology. It is here that we find the opportunity for entirely new ways of interacting with, engaging, and tracking youth and their treatment in mental health care.

In 2001, Marc Prensky published companion papers that coined the term “Digital Natives” to describe this technologically fluent generation. Prensky (2001) labeled their adult counterparts as “Digital Immigrants.” Most recently, Prensky has broadened this concept to include the development of an evolutionary piece, “Digital Wisdom.” Prensky defines “Digital Wisdom” as “a twofold concept, referring both to wisdom arising from the use of digital technology to access cognitive power beyond our innate capacity and to wisdom in the prudent use of technology to enhance our abilities (Prensky 2009).” While Digital Natives...

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