Southampton University has launched a project to explore how social networking tools can enhance personal and social wellbeing.
The study will be informed by the theory that self-representation - including sharing issues about busyness, enjoyment, health and stress via networks - can have real health benefits.
Dr Minoca Schraefel from the University School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton University has set up the healthii application to examine new ways for individuals in groups to communicate with one another.
She said: “We want to find out [whether] if we made it easy to convey richer status in say, Twitter, first will people use it, and second, will they find value in it?
“If I can tell people “I am reading an interesting paper” and add a compressed version of my wellbeing at that time, with a code like #healthii(3321), then I am not only saying what I am doing, but adding a rich context around that activity.
"In this case, the code says I am busy, enjoying what I am doing, not too stressed, but feeling under the weather. In our test application we have mechanisms to make selections easily rather than having to remember numbers.”
Healthii uses a graphical and numerical representation of wellbeing designed to investigate how representations are used over time, supporting understanding, reflection and awareness of both personal and group emotion.
Paul André, a researcher for the study said that they are also looking to identify trends to understand group dynamics, for example if one group of friends is working hard and enjoying themselves and another is working hard and not enjoying themselves.
“Ultimately we’re hoping that tuning applications to support this kind of awareness will contribute to improved personal and social wellbeing.”
The healthii application, which can be used via Facebook or desktop application and Twitter will run until the end of August. Researchers will then report on the results of the study at the end of September.
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