• Samuel Ramirez


Cover Art for Carr Center Discussion PaperIn recent years, there has been growing concern regarding the unintended mental health impact of online platforms and whether they might be driving a public health crisis, especially among children and teens. There is emerging evidence that spending too much time on digital platforms—like gaming sites, online pornography sites, and social media—can be associated with negative mental health effects such as depression and social anxiety, at least in some users. Yet most policy action and advocacy in this industry have focused on the issues of privacy and misinformation, relegating the mental health impact of digital technology as a secondary byproduct of the industry. In this paper, we provide an overview of the documented negative mental health effects associated with prolonged use of video games, online pornography, and social media. We outline the measures that have been taken to address the mental health impact of these technologies. Finally, we suggest that induced overuse is at the heart of the problem and we propose an incentive-based policy mechanism to address it.



Maria Carnovale and Samuel A. Ramirez. 9/22/2022. “Online Platforms & Mental Health: A Policy Proposal.” Cambridge, MA: Harvard Kennedy School.