Young people, scientists, and technology experts unite across countries against problematic use of the internet

  • The BootStRaP project, lead by Dr Jose Manuel Menchón (IDIBELL-HUB) and Dr Naomi Fineberg (UK), aims to address the risks of problematic internet use by young people.
  • Young people from nine European countries will be directly involved in the research process by creating and using a specially-designed app.
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An estimated 10% to 17% of the global population is affected by problematic use of the internet and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to its adverse effects on their individual and societal health and well-being. Actually, range of online behaviours such as gaming, gambling, buying, pornography viewing, social networking, ‘cyber-bullying,’ and ‘cyberchondria’ are known to cause problems for individuals and their families owing to loss of control over online activity. In order to address this, a new study using smart technology to boost mental health and combat the growing burden of problematic use of the internet has started.

The BootStRaP project (Boosting Societal Adaptation and Mental Health in a Rapidly Digitalizing Post-Pandemic Europe) is led by Dr Naomi Fineberg, Professor at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, also the scientific coordinator, and Dr Jose Manuel Menchón, head of the IDIBELL and HUB psychiatry research group, who coordinates its implementation in Europe. It aims to address the risks of problematic internet use by young people and assist parents, guardians, teachers, and healthcare professionals in identifying risks and understanding how they may lead to harm or poor health. Running across 14 countries, the project uses a mobile application to investigate young people’s online daily habits. Young people will be directly involved in the creation of the app and also in the research process.

As Dr Menchón explains, “We recruit several thousands of teenagers via schools across Europe to explore how they use the internet and how this relates to their wellbeing. We then formulate guidelines for healthier internet use and determine how behavioral changes can reduce risks and prevent problematic usage of the internet developing”, and he marks that “We aim to deliver global policy recommendations to address problematic use of the internet based on robust scientific evidence“.

BootStRaP is funded by the Horizon Europe program, UK Research and Innovation program and the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research, and Innovation, and it is coordinated by the Institut Català de la Salut.



The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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