Psychiatry and GAP in the digital age

15 Sep 2015 8:57 PM | Deb Forsten (Administrator)

Written by Dr. Aaron Krasner

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, issues pertaining to technology, mental health, substance use and abuse, and parenting abound. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers – no studies or evidence to inform anticipatory anxieties about “the phone.” On the one hand, these phones are our portals to the world – they proffer hope of social connections, important information, and instant access to a world of data. But in the hands of vulnerable kids and adults, these devices are scary things: implements of impulsive (and permanent) destruction. As we wade into the thorny thickets of technology, we are reminded how little we know. What are tablets doing for (against?) infant brain development. What influence does the seemingly unending proliferation of pornography have on the development of human sexuality? And what of these portable cameras, capturing humanity at its worst – rarely at its best?

Though we know little, I have unpublished data¹ that suggests that older psychiatrists are reticent to engage in social media or communicate with patients and or colleagues electronically. I am alarmed by this fact. I think younger psychiatrists are languishing without appropriate guidance in this rapidly shifting technocracy I have described above. And I think clinical wisdom is being lost. While younger psychiatrists struggle to answer questions, many senior psychiatrists simply divest of the issues, wishing this steak could be uncooked. It cannot.

The development of this new GAP website is an important step in this direction. It will allow GAP to more fully enter the digital age. Not in an impulsive, perilous manner but rather in a carefully crafted, contained, and controlled style that will preserve the integrity of the GAP identity while firmly setting foot in this important world. We will simply bring GAP and what it stands for into this new world. Without a substantive online presence, I am concerned for GAPs salience. Our knowledge, like the knowledge of the senior psychiatrists we interviewed in our study, may be lost in the noise. Let us not allow that to happen.

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