In an exciting study, to combat the phenomenon of electronic cigarettes, which has become increasingly widespread, especially among teenagers and school students.
The researchers designed a special game based on virtual reality techniques and then divided the students into two groups: the first group, the reference group, which continued its studies normally without participating in the virtual game designed by the researchers, and the second group was the experimental group, which is that participated in the game, where the participating students underwent 3 gaming sessions, each session consisting of two hours, while they played the game.
The researchers followed this group for 6 months, during which they assessed the students' cognitive progress about the harms and risks of e-cigarettes over two time periods, the first after 3 months, and the second after 6 months of their practice of the virtual game.
The virtual reality game Invite Only VR takes students to the ninth grade of a virtual high school, where they are surrounded by a group of smoking-obsessed students. He invites them to his graduation party.
During this process, players are exposed to various pressures and temptations from other students in the school in order to try smoking e-cigarettes, while at the same time learning with their virtual friends about the dangers of these cigarettes to their general health.
Through the technology of recognition and simulation of sounds, the game also seeks to help students how to resist the pressures they face in school to learn vaping in the hope that the students will become more prepared to face real-world scenarios.
Dr. Wesser. schools related to e-cigarette smoking, as the game progresses, students learn more and more strategies for refusing to smoke e-cigarettes while maintaining their 'composure' and not succumbing to temptations and pressures, in pursuit of the ostensible goal of the game which is to secure the invitation to the party... It's all about social interactions in the environment.
The researchers found that adolescents who participated in the game had a greater understanding and awareness of the dangers of e-cigarettes, and the effects of smoking on their general health, compared to the control group that did not participate in the game.
They also noticed a significant change in the social perceptions of the experimental group that participated in the game, as these students got rid of the illusion that smoking these cigarettes is an exciting thing that gives them an advantage over non-smokers, and these are important indicators for improving methods of preventing these cigarettes in the future.
2 hours of playing is better than 6 months of education
“We in the research team think these results are really exciting," explains Dr. Wasser. Because two hours of playing a video game can be more beneficial than six months of learning about the harms of e-cigarettes in school using traditional methods.”
“We felt the importance of the game, we did not come to these schools as just researchers distributing a questionnaire and then leaving after filling out the questionnaire, we came in a different way to collect the correct information in a way that students understand and benefit of it in the future.”
The long-term goal of the game remains to prevent middle school teens from trying e-cigarettes and to change the perception that all their peers do so. The percentage of teens who have tried smoking these cigarettes in middle school is 5.7% and jumps to 50.1% in high schools. That is why the implementation of this program in middle schools was very important for students before they moved to secondary school.
In this context, Hefteci stresses, our goal is to focus on prevention, to reach adolescents before they become addicted.