Yale tries to prevent vaping through the use of virtual reality


Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine believe that a virtual reality video game could help young people stop using e-cigarettes and vaping devices.

NEW HAVEN – Medical researchers at Yale have developed an “immersive virtual reality video game” that helps teens and young adults learn about the harms of e-cigarettes. The game aims to help these people learn practical strategies to learn to refuse the use of these products. According to a press release from the Yale School of Medicine, e-cigarette consumption is still on the rise among young people. Citing outdated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers expanded the study to believe that these trends are still in place and that video games could change minds.

“When teens think of vaping, they think of JUUL,” says Veronica Weser, research scientist for the in play4REAL XR lab in the school’s pediatrics department. Weser is also the principal investigator of this study. “They don’t make the connection with nicotine and the harmful and addictive nature that e-cigarettes actually have.”

The game is called Invite Only VR: a vaping prevention game. It transports students to a “mock high school world where they’re in ninth grade.” Surrounded by a small group of “nerdy” friends, the players aim to befriend the popular senior in their health class and be invited to his exclusive party. The game further states that gamers will come under pressure from their classmates trying to get them to use electronic cigarettes. Voice recognition technology is also used for students to practice “navigating peer pressure situations” that involve vaping.

“As the game progresses, you learn more and more strategies to refuse e-cigarettes while still maintaining your ‘cool’ and your high school dignity so that you can get that invitation to the party,” Weser explains in the same press release. from Yale Medicine.

“It’s really a question of social interactions regarding electronic cigarettes,” she added. Essentially, VR gaming is nothing more than an attempt at social conditioning. On top of that, the video game hints that vaping is the only peer pressure experience teens might encounter. Still, there are far worse scenarios that Yale researchers overlooked, including the use of more extreme products like tobacco cigarettes and the rates of alcohol and marijuana and harder drug use among the targeted youth.

The researchers submitted their results and published them in the academic journal Addictive behaviors. According to the results of the study account, the researchers claim to have been successful. The results suggest: “From baseline to 6 months, Invite only virtual reality players improved their knowledge of electronic cigarettes, knowledge of nicotine addiction, perception of e-cigarette addiction, perceptions of harm and social perceptions on e-cigarette use compared to the control group . No significant change was observed for the other dependent variables, including the use of electronic cigarettes. The ratings for gaming experience and satisfaction, virtual reality experience, and game-based decisions were high.

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