NOT-MH-23-136 Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Bidirectional Influences Between Adolescent Social Media Use and Mental Health (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) intends to promote a new initiative by publishing a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit applications for research on bidirectional influences between social media use and adolescent mental health, psychiatric symptoms, and risk or resilience for psychopathology. Adolescents have increasing access to and spend an increasing amount of time engaging in online social interactions and consuming content on social media platforms, yet there is limited knowledge of how online social behavior and experiences interact with adolescent mental health and risk for psychopathology.
This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects.
The FOA is expected to be published in January 2023 with an expected application due date in March 2023.
This FOA will utilize the R01 activity code. Details of the planned FOA are provided below.
This Notice encourages investigators with expertise and insights in adolescent psychopathology, social cognition, social media, and neurodevelopment to begin to consider applying for this new FOA.
Adolescence is a period of significant social, behavioral, physiological, and neural development. The brain undergoes significant reorganization during this time. Adolescents also begin to re-orient from families to peers, develop more complex identities, and function more independently across a range of social contexts. These social changes occur in conjunction with developing neural circuits associated with executive function, emotion regulation, and reward processing. Adolescence is also a period of increased risk for the onset of mental disorders and symptoms.
In December 2021, the US Surgeon General issued an Advisory on Youth Mental Health, which highlighted the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis. The advisory called special attention to the need for rigorous research on how youth engage with social media, gaming, and a wide variety of online images and content. Adolescents have increasing access to and spend an increasing amount of time engaging in online social interactions and consuming content on social media platforms, yet there is limited knowledge of how online social behavior and experiences interact with adolescent mental health and risk for psychopathology.
Research Scope and Objectives
This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) will focus on understanding bidirectional relationships between social media use and adolescent mental health, psychiatric symptoms, and risk or resilience for psychopathology. For the purposes of the FOA, social media are defined as internet-based communication platforms and applications that enable interactions between users by sharing or consuming information. Importantly, adolescents, defined here as 10-20 years of age, have increasing access to social media and greater autonomy in their use of digital platforms.
Research submitted to this FOA may focus on the positive and negative impacts of social media on adolescent mental health and/or how adolescent psychopathology influences social media use. Interactions via social media play an increasingly important role in adolescent development, but little is known about the mechanisms by which social media use may impact risk or resilience for psychopathology. Identifying individual and contextual factors that may serve as modifiable targets for intervention is a high priority.
This FOA will prioritize rigorous research studies that utilize sophisticated and fine-grained approaches to assess social media use and that move beyond simple assessments of time spent on social media. Applications are expected to define and justify the social media platforms examined, social media data collection methods (e.g., content type, exposure levels, mode of use, etc.), and age range of participants in the proposed research. For example, projects may quantify social behavior and social media use across one or more avenues of social media (e.g., platforms, texting, gaming, chats, videos) and across hardware platforms (e.g., phones, computers, gaming systems with social interaction) as needed to fit a project’s conceptual framework and hypotheses. Collection of passive digital trace data, such as text analysis or movement and GPS data, offers an opportunity to study social media use by adolescents in their usage context and enrich our understanding of how they are utilizing social media.
Some adolescent participants may currently have, or have a history of, a mental illness diagnosis, like ADHD, anxiety, depression, or an eating disorder. Diagnostic documentation and current symptomatology will be important factors to consider for studies examining issues of risk/resilience. Research that provides insight into clinical and societal interventions that might mitigate potential harms of social media are particularly encouraged. Applications are encouraged to include a youth advisory board consistent with participant age to provide input on how proposed research fits adolescent experiences with social media and best avenues for dissemination of findings to adolescents and their communities. Applications may also consider incorporating an ethical research component or collaborations with ethics consultants to advance understanding of the ethical considerations and implications of social media research in adolescents.
Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:
Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with NIMH staff as early as possible when developing plans for an application. This early contact will provide an opportunity to clarify NIH policies and guidelines and help to identify whether the proposed project is consistent with NIMH program priorities and FOA goals.
NIMH intends to hold public pre-application teleconference via Zoom for applicants. Details on how to attend the optional pre-application webinar will be published through a Guide Notice.
Application budgets are not limited but need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.
Applications are not being solicited at this time.
Please direct all inquiries to:
Julia Zehr, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)