Friday, 13 Nov, 2009 Science

Virtual Reality Might Be Used to Aid Bullied Children


Scientists from the University of Warwick claim that virtual reality could be used to help children avoid bullying and discrimination at school. Researchers decided to launch an anti-bullying virtual learning program in British and German schools and noticed that the victimization in the respective schools lowered by 26 percent.

In their research, the team of scientists led by Maria Sapouna and Professor Dieter Wolke from Warwick Medical School and the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick studied the results of FearNot!, which is an anti-bullying virtual learning intervention.

The group examined 1,129 children from 27 primary schools throughout the United Kingdom and Germany. They selected children aged 8 and 9 and divide them into two groups - the intervention and control one. The first group was involved in three sessions, during which they individually interacted with the virtual reality game. One session lasted 30 minutes and children from the intervention group were asked to participate in sessions during a three-week period.

FearNot! represents a virtual school that features 3D pupils who assume the same roles that children take when bullying takes place, i.e. the bullied person, the bully or the onlooker. Afterwards these personalities were used to improvise real-life bullying situations. Thus children were able to interact with virtual characters and offer ways of dealing with the occurred situation. Despite the fact that the effect of the program was a short one, scientists consider that longer interventions could lead to much better results.

According to Professor Wolke, the current study is the first one to analyze the effectiveness of a virtual learning intervention for people who suffer from bullying. "Virtual interventions could be most effective as part of a wider anti-bullying curriculum," he said.

Posted by Maxriter

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