ecently, Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook, issued some harsh criticism of social networks in an interview on Axios.
He claims they work to exploit “a vulnerability in human psychology” and that those networks will eventually “consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible.” He claims the networks do this by creating a system to generate addictive loops that “sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever.”
It's very powerful and used by all of the major social media sites which continue to grow and consume our time and attention.
But what if we could take those same techniques Facebook used to grow to over 2 billion active users a month and applied them to something positive, like health education?
Recently, Tom Chamberlain, PharmD, CEO and Founder of EdLogics, gave a presentation to the Global Action Summit on the gamification of health. In his presentation, Dr. Chamberlain described various types of gaming technologies, such as video games, mobile apps, virtual reality, augmented reality, and interactive learning, and how they are being used in the medical field.
Chamberlain went on to discuss the key principles of gamification, including instant rewards, milestones, status, and competition. He described how a “little dopamine hit” is generated through playing these games and through the use of gamification technologies.
Driving engagement and facilitating behavior changes are the “holy grails” of health improvement programs. If we can get individuals, employees, plan members, and/or communities more engaged in understanding and acting on their own health, we can see vast improvements in a population’s health and lowered costs. This is why applying gamification principles to health education is so exciting.
Low health literacy is associated with poor health outcomes and higher costs. It’s pretty clear that if a person does not understand their health, their health issues, the healthcare system, or their health insurance, they won’t be able to maintain or improve their health, select the right provider, adhere to treatment, and more.
These approaches are not just fun and games when it comes to health — they are using real science in an effort to drive behavior change and improve one’s life.
If you’d like more information on the EdLogics platform for your employees, health plan or as a broker/consultant, please contact us.
A version of this article was originally published 11/11/2017.
We’re proud. But we’re not surprised.
A study by the University of Oregon's Brian Primack, MD, PhD — an EdLogics advisor — has been named Article of the Year by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM). The study, “Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the US,” examines whether time on social media actually helps — or hurts — our personal connections.
From the journal:
“The Article of the Year is selected by the AJPM editors and one representative from each of the journal’s two sponsoring professional societies, the American College of Preventive Medicine and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research.”
The honor was announced late last year.
You might recall our recent webinar, “Improving Health Literacy: What Works & Why,” featuring Dr. Primack and EdLogics advisor and health literacy expert Dr. Russell Rothman, MD, MPP, of Vanderbilt University. Dr. Primack made some illuminating, thought-provoking points on the effectiveness of gamification and game-based learning for improving health literacy.
In addition to being an EdLogics advisor, Dr. Primack is the director of Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health at the University of Pittsburgh. For this study, he and his colleagues surveyed 1,787 adults in the US ages 19–32, asking about their social media habits across 11 different social networks. They also asked about loneliness and isolation, gauging the correlation between social media use and feeling left out.
What they found surprised them.
You’d think that social media connects us. That’s the point, isn’t it?
But the more people use social media, the more lonely they say they feel. In fact, those who used it more than 2 hours a day were twice as likely to report feeling socially isolated, compared to those who spent a half-hour a day or less.
“The people in the highest quartile of social media use [more than 58 visits a week] … had about 3 times the likelihood of having perceived social isolation,” Primack says. “Social media does not translate directly to better social connectedness.”
He goes on:
“It may be that people who are already socially isolated are turning to social media to try to fill that void. However, if that is the case, the results of this study would suggest that that self-medication is not working so well.
“On the other hand, it may be that people who use more social media are being exposed to highly curated messages suggesting that ‘everyone else has more connections, a better life than I do.’ And in comparison, people can feel sad or they can feel socially isolated. … It may be a combination of the two.”
American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2017 Article of the Year
Brian A. Primack, MD, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh discusses “Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S.” This article was chosen by the editors of AJPM as the top article published in the journal in 2017.
It can depend on how you use social media. Primack is already making plans for future studies that get into more nuanced detail. That way, we can see what types of social media use correlate to feeling more — or less — lonely. We can see which social media behaviors correlate to which feelings.
Until then, Primack says, everyone can judge for themselves how social media affects them:
“Is their social media use making their lives better, is it inadvertently detracting from them?”
A version of this article was originally published 1/19/2019.