Connect with us
  • Elysium

Neuropsychology news

Impact of gaming on wellbeing explored

International study looks at impact of digital stressors on young people aged between ten and 24



The impact of gaming on the wellbeing of young people is to be analysed in a new international study. 

Focusing on adolescents aged ten to 24 years, the research will examine how our rapidly-changing society has created additional digital stressors. 

As the digitalisation of information continues at pace, accelerated by the pandemic, the 24/7 information overload has adversely impacted some members of society.

The research – by scientists from Heriot-Watt University, alongside partners at the University of Edinburgh and a European consortium led by FTK (Forschungsinstitut für Telekommunikation und Kooperation) – will be one of the most comprehensive studies to date into how digital technologies impact on young people’s health.

Experts from psychology and engineering specialties will work alongside clinicians and gaming experts, to develop ways to measure the impact of both direct and indirect stressors. 

These include 24/7 news cycles, world events, social media and cyberbullying. The team will use gamification techniques to explore ways to help practitioners and individuals to process these stressors and manage their wellbeing.

The €6M project is funded by Horizon Europe with just under €1M of the total funding supporting the UK research partners. Similar pilot studies will take place in Germany, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Cyprus and Poland using the same approach. 

It is anticipated the new research will help practitioners and individuals to better monitor and manage emotional wellbeing in young people.

Dr Mel McKendrick, from Heriot-Watt University, explains: “Digital transformation has been heralded as one of the greatest achievements of recent times but as psychologists, clinicians, parents and individuals, we’re still exploring its impact. 

“This study will examine stress from digitalisation, looking at it from the user’s perspective to better understand changes in mental state, treatment and self-management. 

“It is difficult for clinicians to monitor fluctuations in mental health and therefore accurately diagnose conditions in some cases. Meanwhile, services are at breaking point. 

“We want to create innovative methods using gamification to better inform ways to support young people living in Scotland initially before helping to shape wider work across the UK.”

Dr Theodore Lim, from Heriot-Watt University, continues: “This collaboration between psychology and engineering will use gamification such as a mobile app game to capture neurological sequences in young people. How they play the game will inform us about their mental well-being and can track their response over time to deliver trends and patterns. 

“The data will be fed into a hub with an AI to analyse it. Clinical and user input will be essential throughout the study to improve the game and identify the correct classifiers.”

Ensuring young people are engaged in the game and that participation is positive will be essential requirements of the study’s success so the team will build it using focus groups and discussions with young people and social networks. The clinical team will work with schools and universities to help involve children on a voluntary basis.

Results will be released as an open knowledge database for clinicians and researchers to feedback on and analyse.

The Heriot-Watt team will work with gaming company Neuromedia and clinicians from the University of Edinburgh with the findings initially informing approaches in Scotland before widening out the study’s impact to the rest of the UK.