Adolescents spend a large portion of their day connected to a digital device, and this became even more pronounced during the pandemic. The objective of the CyberTeens research project is to understand the developmental and social factors related to adolescent’s technology engagement, as well as the long term impact of spending so much time on screens. This work is novel in that it is framed within the context of adolescent development and therefore accounts for the salience of social goals and peer/romantic relationships for this age group.

CyberTeens is a 4-year longitudinal study. It involves administering an online questionnaire to youth aged 13-18 in several secondary schools in BC each year for four years. Since this study was postponed due to COVID, we also included COVID-related questions to find out how kids were doing during the pandemic.


Parent, N., Xiao, B., Hein-Salvi, C., & Shapka, J. (2022). Should We Be Worried about Smartphone Addiction? An Examination of Canadian Adolescents’ Feelings of Social Disconnection in the Time of COVID-19. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health19(15), 9365. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19159365.

Parent, N., Bond, T. A., & Shapka, J. D. (2021). Smartphones as attachment targets: an attachment theory framework for understanding problematic smartphone use. Current Psychology, 1-12. doi: 10.1007/s12144-021-02092-w.

Parent, N., Dadgar, K., Xiao, B., Hesse, C., & Shapka, J. D. (2021). Social disconnection during COVID‐19: The role of attachment, fear of missing out, and smartphone use. Journal of Research on Adolescence31(3), 748-763. doi: 10.1111/jora.12658.

Shapka, J. D. (2019). Adolescent technology engagement: It is more complicated than a lack of self‐control. Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies1(2), 103-110.
doi: 10.1002/hbe2.144.

Conference Presentations

Parent, N., Xiao, B., & Shapka, J. D. (March, 2022). Adolescents’ social connection in the time of COVID-19: the role of school connectedness and peer attachment. Paper presented at the annual meeting for the Society for Research on Adolescence, Virtual.

Parent, N., Hesse, C. L., Baitz, R., & Shapka, J. D. (2021, November). The experience of FoMO in adolescence: Examining the relationship between basic psychological needs and the Fear of Missing Out. Presented at the American Psychological Association’s Technology, Mind, & Society Conference, Virtual.

Hein-Salvi, C., Parent, N., Xiao, B., & Shapka, J.D. (2022, June). “Comfortably disengaged”: A mixed-methods examination of social anxiety, smartphone engagement, personality traits, and mental health in the time of COVID-19. Presented at Development 2022: A Canadian Conference on Developmental Psychology, Calgary, Alberta.

Parent, N., Xiao, B., & Shapka, J.D. (2022, June). Social disconnection and wellbeing in the time of COVID-19: Do we really need to worry about smartphone addiction? Presented at Development 2022: A Canadian Conference on Developmental Psychology, Calgary, Alberta.

Shapka, J.D. (2022, June). COVID and Screentime: It’s more complicated than we think. Presented at Development 2022: A Canadian Conference on Developmental Psychology, Calgary, Alberta.

Invited Keynotes

Shapka, J.D. (2022, October). Kids and Screentime: It’s more complicated than we think. Invited presentation for the Canadian Association for Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Vancouver, BC.

Parent, N. (2022, September). Technology use and the fear of missing out in adolescence: An attachment theory perspective. Invited presentation for the 21st International Attachment Conference. Ulm, Germany.

Shapka, J.D. (2021, June). CyberTeens Research Project: Learning and Connecting in the time of COVID-19. Invited keynote for the annual Canadian Psychological Association. Virtual.

Media Presentations

Children’s COVID-related Anxiety

Screentime during COVID-19

  • AM 800 CJAD, Montreal (audio ). April 14, 2020
  • Global News Radio, Toronto (audio ). April 14, 2020
  • CBC News (article ). April 8, 2020