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      “Happiness Inventors”: Informing Positive Computing Technologies Through Participatory Design With Children

      , PhD (Computer Science) , 1 , , PhD (Clinical Psych) 2

      (Reviewer), (Reviewer), (Reviewer), (Reviewer)

      Journal of Medical Internet Research

      JMIR Publications

      positive computing, positive psychology, participatory design, cooperative inquiry, children

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          Abstract

          Background

          Positive psychological interventions for children have typically focused on direct adaptations of interventions developed for adults. As the community moves toward designing positive computing technologies to support child well-being, it is important to use a more participatory process that directly engages children’s voices.

          Objective

          Our objectives were, through a participatory design study, to understand children’s interpretations of positive psychology concepts, as well as their perspectives on technologies that are best suited to enhance their engagement with practice of well-being skills.

          Methods

          We addressed these questions through a content analysis of 434 design ideas, 51 sketches, and 8 prototype and videos, which emerged from a 14-session cooperative inquiry study with 12 child “happiness inventors.” The study was part of a summer learning camp held at the children’s middle school, which focused on teaching the invention process, teaching well-being skills drawn from positive psychology and related areas (gratitude, mindfulness, and problem solving), and iterating design ideas for technologies to support these skills.

          Results

          The children’s ideas and prototypes revealed specific facets of how they interpreted gratitude (as thanking, being positive, and doing good things), mindfulness (as externally representing thought and emotions, controlling those thoughts and emotions, getting through unpleasant things, and avoiding forgetting something), and problem solving (as preventing bad decisions, seeking alternative solutions, and not dwelling on unproductive thoughts). This process also revealed that children emphasized particular technologies in their solutions. While desktop or laptop solutions were notably lacking, other ideas were roughly evenly distributed between mobile apps and embodied computing technologies (toys, wearables, etc). We also report on desired functionalities and approaches to engagement in the children’s ideas, such as a notable emphasis on representing and responding to internal states.

          Conclusions

          Our findings point to promising directions for the design of positive computing technologies targeted at children, with particular emphases on the perspectives, technologies, engagement approaches, and functionalities that appealed to the children in our study. The dual focus of the study on teaching skills while designing technologies is a novel methodology in the design of positive computing technologies intended to increase child well-being.

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          Most cited references 54

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          Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving.

          Four experiments indicated that positive affect, induced by means of seeing a few minutes of a comedy film or by means of receiving a small bag of candy, improved performance on two tasks that are generally regarded as requiring creative ingenuity: Duncker's (1945) candle task and M. T. Mednick, S. A. Mednick, and E. V. Mednick's (1964) Remote Associates Test. One condition in which negative affect was induced and two in which subjects engaged in physical exercise (intended to represent affectless arousal) failed to produce comparable improvements in creative performance. The influence of positive affect on creativity was discussed in terms of a broader theory of the impact of positive affect on cognitive organization.
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            The grateful disposition: a conceptual and empirical topography.

            In four studies, the authors examined the correlates of the disposition toward gratitude. Study I revealed that self-ratings and observer ratings of the grateful disposition are associated with positive affect and well-being, prosocial behaviors and traits, and religiousness/spirituality. Study 2 replicated these findings in a large nonstudent sample. Study 3 yielded similar results to Studies I and 2 and provided evidence that gratitude is negatively associated with envy and materialistic attitudes. Study 4 yielded evidence that these associations persist after controlling for Extraversion/positive affectivity. Neuroticism/negative affectivity, and Agreeableness. The development of the Gratitude Questionnaire, a unidimensional measure with good psychometric properties, is also described.
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              Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness.

              Previous research indicates that long-term meditation practice is associated with altered resting electroencephalogram patterns, suggestive of long lasting changes in brain activity. We hypothesized that meditation practice might also be associated with changes in the brain's physical structure. Magnetic resonance imaging was used to assess cortical thickness in 20 participants with extensive Insight meditation experience, which involves focused attention to internal experiences. Brain regions associated with attention, interoception and sensory processing were thicker in meditation participants than matched controls, including the prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula. Between-group differences in prefrontal cortical thickness were most pronounced in older participants, suggesting that meditation might offset age-related cortical thinning. Finally, the thickness of two regions correlated with meditation experience. These data provide the first structural evidence for experience-dependent cortical plasticity associated with meditation practice.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                J Med Internet Res
                J. Med. Internet Res
                JMIR
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                1439-4456
                1438-8871
                January 2017
                17 January 2017
                : 19
                : 1
                Affiliations
                1GroupLens Research Center Department of Computer Science & Engineering University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MNUnited States
                2Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern University Chicago, ILUnited States
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Svetlana Yarosh lana@ 123456umn.edu
                Article
                v19i1e14
                10.2196/jmir.6822
                5285607
                28096066
                ©Svetlana Yarosh, Stephen Matthew Schueller. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 17.01.2017.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                Categories
                Original Paper
                Original Paper

                Medicine

                positive computing, children, cooperative inquiry, participatory design, positive psychology

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