Should academics collaborate with social media and gaming companies to identify and reduce mental health impacts on children and young people? While opinions on this question sharply diverge within the academic community, in practice collaboration is already widespread. As digital platforms increasingly dominate the time and attention of many young people and are the source of both considerable concern as well as offering innovative opportunities for beneficial interventions, researchers are recognising the potential for collaboration to accelerate positive impact. However, concerns over the independence and transparency of collaborative research have received little institutional or collective response. Recognising both the promise and the pitfalls, this debate article calls for multidisciplinary deliberation within the academy to support the co-development of clear guidelines on the principles and processes by which collaboration is best undertaken, as well as the basis for ensuring that some research remains independent.