Sunday, May 17, 2020

Things To Do - Mental Health Un-Conference, Week of May 18, 2020

Picture of colorful sticky notes on a cork board

All presentations are presented in voice and text simultaneously for maximum accessibility.
This event is part of Virtual Ability's 2020 Mental Health Un-Conference.

What: Coping with our avatars, and the people behind them
Who: Dr. Nick Bowman
When: Monday May 18, 11am-1pm SLT
Where: Yellow Hibiscus Cabana, Virtual Ability, Second Life
  • A growing body of research has shown that technology users have varied social relationships with their avatars. These relationships range from asocial "Object" orientations in which avatars are nothing more than pixels, to "Me" orientations in which avatars are a true representation of ourselves in a digital world, to "Other" orientations in which avatars represent a companion in the virtual space. Research even shows "Symbiote" orientations in which users blend pieces of themselves with pieces of their avatar as a way to work through uncertainty. These relations are already dynamic and complex during somewhat routine online engagement. In the face of COVID-19 in which many around the world are becoming increasingly exposed to and reliant on online interactions, we might wonder if and how we are shifting our relationships with our avatars as a way to cope with the sudden influx of so many social others online. Following a brief presentation on user-avatar relationships, Dr. Nick Bowman will lead an open dialogue focused on how the relationships we form with our avatars might be affected by the relationships we form and foster with other users.
  • Nick Bowman (PhD, Michigan State University) is an Associate Professor in the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University, where he researches the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social demands of interactive media such as video games and virtual reality. He has published over 80 manuscripts in academic journals and is a regular speaker on issues of media psychology and mass communication research. He is the incoming editor of Journal of Media Psychology and just recently completed a J. William Fulbright research and teaching fellowship at the National Chengchi University in Taiwan.

What: Research in Online Communities: An interactive workshop on privacy and human subjects research considerations
Who: Dr. Michelle Colder Carras
When: Wednesday May 20, 1pm SLT
Where: Yellow Hibiscus Cabana Classroom, Virtual Ability island

  • Belonging to an online community can be good for your health, especially if you have a disability, but do you know the implications for your privacy? What are your thoughts and opinions about health research being conducted within online communities? How can we balance protecting health information that people share with the realities of public spaces that are accessible with only a few clicks? Join Dr. Michelle Colder Carras, a health researcher specializing in video games, online communities, and health research for a frank discussion. Questions to think about in advance are posted here. You can write out your thoughts to share during the discussion. Notes from the discussion will be used to inform designs and ethical protocols for research in online communities.
  • Presenter bio: Dr. Michelle Colder Carras is a public mental health scientist and informaticist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who specializes in normative and problematic media and technology use. Her most recent work has focused on how commercial video games and gaming communities can be useful for mental health and suicide prevention. She is a gamer, a mother, a hiker, and a person with bipolar disorder. You can find more information on her website,

What: Virtual Worlds, Real Healing for PTSD
Who: Anya Ibor/Colleen M. Crary
When: Thursday May 21, 1:00 pm
Where: Fearless Nation PTSD Support

  • A review of how PTSD symptoms can be negotiated, re-framed, and resolved through virtual world activities, creating resilience in people with post-trauma. Slide show, visual presentation in voice and chat. 
  • Anya Ibor, Colleen M. Crary, M.A. in RL, is a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology currently editing her research for publication. A BA in Graphic Design from SDSU and Masters in Forensic Psychology from the Chicago school, Colleen has been focused on the efficacy of virtual reality for PTSD care for over 10 years. A PTSD subject matter expert and group facilitator in SL and RL, she works as a consultant in XR (VR, UI, AR) and Cyberpsychology.

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