XCAVO: Realigning Your Digital Life

Project Lead Category Project status
Nastasia Griffioen Social Media Recruitment

Digital media are designed to serve many different functions: socialising, working, building relationships, as well as playing and being entertained. In this project, we seek to understand the impact of different features of digital media, and help youth align what they value and love with what they do on digital platforms, in order to increase wellbeing and coherent identity development.

Project team


We are in the midst of a global transition in which digital “screens” are no longer simply entertainment devices and distractions; rather, young people are currently living in a hybrid reality that links digital spaces to offline contexts. There is a heated debate being played out within academia and across scientific communities about the impact of “screen time” on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. This discourse is amplified across public media outlets, with headlines that scream for bans or restrictions on screen time, lest it cause the current generation of youth to become increasingly violent, addicted, depressed, anxious, and even suicidal. It is clear that the current generation of young people is growing up in a digital ecosystem unprecedented in its ubiquity and complexity. 

Far less clear are the mental health implications, the risks versus benefits, of this brave new digital world.Instead of this focus on “screen time”, we propose an alternative, functional approach to studying young people’s mental health in the digital age, one that examines why and how digital media affect young people’s development. Specifically, we suggest that understanding identity development – the core developmental task of adolescence and young adulthood – can help pinpoint the digital experiences that contribute to healthy versus problematic mental health outcomes. 

Our main argument is that understanding the processes underlying this core developmental concern of adolescents and young adults can help pinpoint the digital experiences that will contribute to both healthy normative development as well as the emergence of serious mental health concerns. Digital media are designed to serve many different functions: socialising, working, building relationships, as well as playing and being entertained. Instead of simple frequency counts on different devices and applications, what we need to examine is how the function of digital media relates to mental health. Specifically, we seek to understand the impact of different features of digital media, and individual differences in their use, in relation to identity development, the core developmental task of adolescence. 

To test the premises of this alternative functional approach for young people’s mental health in the digital age, we work on developing a psychologically informed app (working title XCAVO) that can help youth figure out what it is what they want out of their digital life, and act on that. 

For this project, we are currently looking for young people (17-25 years old) who are comfortable and fluent in English, and interested in participating in user tests to figure out how we might best achieve our goal of helping youth. Are you interested, or do you know a family member that might be interested? Feel free to contact Nastasia Griffioen ([email protected]), the lead researcher on this project, for more information. 


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Project team

Nastasia Griffioen title=
Nastasia Griffioen
Operations Manager of GEMH Lab

Nerd, is fascinated by the brain even more than your average zombie, into etymology and reading, drawn to anything tech-related, especially artificial intelligence. Wants to explore social tech (such as social media) and how these relate to young people's wellbeing.


Post Doctorate


E-mail Nastasia

Ken Koontz title=
Ken Koontz
Creative Director of GEMH Lab

Game designer, artist, producer, anime enthusiast and lover of games. I bring diversity, design experience and the NOISE!!!!


Founder of Koontz Interactive


E-mail Ken

Hanneke Scholten title=
Hanneke Scholten
Co-Director of GEMH Lab

Researcher, interdisciplinary work and collaboration, wants to understand the how's and why's, loves her high heels and coffee in the morning, walks and talks too fast.


Assistant Professor at University of Twente


E-mail Hanneke

Isabela Granic title=
Isabela Granic
Director of GEMH Lab

Professor and Chair of the Developmental Psychopathology department in the Behavioural Science Institute; writer; voracious podcast consumer; mother of two upstanding little gamers


Professor at McMaster's University


E-mail Isabela

Joanneke Weerdmeester title=
Joanneke Weerdmeester
Behavioral Scientist

Researcher, psychologist, PhD-candidate, gamer, dungeon master, language enthusiast and lover of all things geeky.


Self-Employed Consultant


E-mail Joanneke

Hiromitsu Morita title=
Hiromitsu Morita




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