Applied Gaming Intervention for reducing Loneliness of Children with Chronic Diseases
Many studies have shown that children with chronic conditions are at a greater risk for poor mental health and social problems, like depressive symptoms, anxiety and loneliness, compared to their healthy peers (Greenham et al., 2015; Pinquart and Teubert 2012). For children (social) play is of vital importance; it offers clear benefits regarding social and emotional health and development. As an overarching objective of this proposal, it is investigated to what extent stimulating or modifying play behaviour through an applied game can enhance the adaptability of a child to a (chronic) stressful condition. The hypothesis is that a well-designed applied game for children with a chronic disease will promote short- and long-term social and emotional development, thereby strengthening the basis for their future health and behaviour.
The innovativeness of the project is that (1) the often underexposed aspect of loneliness for chronically ill children is specifically targeted, (2) fundamental research into stimulating or modifying play behaviour is facilitated by the development of an applied game that is focused on alleviating experienced loneliness, and (3) such an applied game enables interventions to reach children beyond the hospital setting (i.e., in their home or school environment).
Particularly, the focus will be on children aged 8-12, as these children display an abundance of play behaviour, and precisely this playful interaction (when correctly modified) enables us to directly influence & promote positive affect and mental health (i.e., reduce anxiety and depression symptoms) and enables us to promote active coping styles. Indirectly, we also expect effects in the long term, such as increased resilience, better social development, and establishing better coping strategies resulting in better mental health for chronically ill children.