Virtual reality games could help bullying victims

Nov 09, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Virtual reality games could help children to escape victimisation and bullying at school, according to researchers at the University of Warwick.

Children who took part in a three-week anti-bullying virtual learning intervention in schools in the UK and Germany showed a 26% decrease in victimisation.

In the study, published in The , Maria Sapouna and Professor Dieter Wolke from Warwick Medical School and the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick led a team of researchers to examine the effects of an anti-bullying virtual learning intervention called FearNot!

The team recruited 1,129 children aged between eight and nine from 27 primary schools across the UK and Germany. They split the children into intervention and control groups. The intervention group took part in three sessions, interacting individually with the FearNot! software. Each session lasted around 30 minutes over a three-week period. The children were assessed on self-report measures of victimisation before and after the intervention.

The software was a virtual school with 3D pupils who assumed the roles that children take when occurs, either as the bully, victim or bystander. These characters were then used to improvise real-life bullying incidents and pupils could interact with the characters and suggest ways to cope with or resolve the situation. Although the effect was only short-term, researchers suggest longer interventions could have a more sustained impact.

Professor Wolke said this was the first study to investigate the efficacy of a virtual learning intervention for victims of bullying. He said: “We found that the FearNot! intervention significantly increased the probability of victims escaping victimisation, especially among those children who interacted with the characters more and explored the advice. The effects we found were only short-term, but we believe a longer term intervention integrated in the curriculum would be more beneficial.

“Our findings suggest for the intervention to be effective, they need to be of appropriate duration and include booster episodes over time. Virtual interventions could be most effective as part of a wider anti-bullying curriculum.”

Provided by University of Warwick (news : web)

Explore further: Fruit and vegetable consumption could be as good for your mental as your physical health

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study looks at why the bullies carry on bullying

Sep 05, 2007

Young male bullies are aware of the damage that they cause their victims but carry on to guarantee their own personal gain, according to findings of preliminary research at the University of Sussex.

Recommended for you

75 years after his death, Vienna struggles with Freud

4 hours ago

Even before Sigmund Freud fled Hitler on the Orient Express from Vienna in June 1938, the father of psychoanalysis and his ideas about sex, dreams and cocaine divided opinion in the Austrian capital.

Classroom intervention helps shy kids learn

20 hours ago

A program that helps teachers modify their interactions with students based on an individual's temperament helps shy children to become more engaged in their class work, and in turn, improves their math and critical thinking ...

New blood test may help diagnose depression

22 hours ago

The World Health Organisation has determined that depressive disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide. The recurrent and chronic forms of depression account for the bulk of the problem.

User comments : 0