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The Lincy Institute E-Health Summit. November 10, 2011. Technology, Youth, Gambling, and Addiction. Jeffrey L. Derevensky, Ph.D. Professor, School/Applied Child Psychology Professor, Psychiatry McGill University. E-Health Summit University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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technology youth gambling and addiction

Technology, Youth, Gambling, and Addiction

Jeffrey L. Derevensky, Ph.D.

Professor, School/Applied Child Psychology

Professor, Psychiatry

McGill University

E-Health Summit

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

November, 2011

does technology hurt or help public health

Does Technology Hurt or Help Public Health?

Debi A. LaPlante

Division on Addictions, Cambridge Health Alliance

Harvard Medical School

November 10, 2011

technology society
Technology & Society
  • Historians note that, with each advance, society has been “haunted by the effects of technology on the individual and society as a whole”(Ellerman, 2007)
  • A primary concern over time has included whether the new technology will be overwhelmingly attractive to the people who are exposed to it
technology society1
Technology & Society
  • Medieval society had an “ambivalent” relationship with the development of mechanical clocks because of their ability to redirect individuals’ attention from eternity (and spirituality) to the present(Ellerman, 2007)
technology society2
Technology & Society
  • Much later, electronic communication advances (e.g., the radio and television) stimulated concerns that these devices would absorb individuals’ time excessively or cause addiction or other scandalous behavior(Silver, 1979; Stern, 1999)
technology society3
Technology & Society
  • History suggests the effects are temporary, but…
  • Most recently, people have expressed the same or similar concerns about the potential for unhealthy excessive involvement with personal computers, the Internet, and mobile devices, such as smart phones
the brain s reward system
A key component of the development of addictive behavior, therefore, is the activation of the brain’s reward system

The reward system of the brain teaches us to do things that make us feel good

Things like drugs, sex, and gambling can stimulate the reward system

The Brain’s Reward System

Image courtesy of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Shaffer et al., 2004; Brieter et al., 2001

emerging evidence
Emerging Evidence
  • People who have a propensity for excessive Internet gaming show similar brain activation to that of individuals who suffered from substance dependence or pathological gambling when they viewed relevant addiction-related cues(Han, Hwang, & Renshaw, 2010)
technology society4
Technology & Society
  • Society’s recurring concerns, with every technological advance, only reflect one side of the story of technology and addiction
  • Technology also might play an important role in preventing or curtailing risky behavior
toward e health
Toward e-Health
  • Clinician researchers have suggested that the ability to use the computer to treat behavior disorders might “…prove to be a small revolution for the delivery of mental health care” (Carroll & Rounsaville, 2010)
  • What is e-health?
    • New treatment approaches informed by or delivered by new technology
    • New delivery approaches for established treatment by new technology
our view
Our view…
  • There are a number of new and exciting e-tools for health purposes generally, and for addiction-related problems in particular.
  • For example, studies seem to suggest that these technologies show promise by improving self-monitoring (which makes sense, given that you’ve always got this ‘tool’ on you, and can instantaneously enter data on consumption – food, smoking, gambling).
  • People can also, of course, instantaneously access data (information – specifically, educational and awareness information that might help with prevention).
  • Given these successes, we decided to create a problem gambling “e-health” program.
based upon the literature review
Based upon the literature review…
  • Our research team decided to focus “Health-E Gambling” development in four major areas:
  • 1) Educational messaging: 20th century messages, 21st century media
  • 2) Resource finder: helpline, using GPS to locate nearest/next GA meeting, treatment clinics
  • 3) Community finder: connecting with others who “get it” – via bulletin boards, chat rooms, and other online communication tools
  • 4) Virtual sponsor: urge-focused, and provides instant urge management strategies, stories of recovery, and resource information.
  • Down the road: algorithms, based upon direct or indirect play measurement?
focus group research
Focus Group Research
  • After the first version of the Health-E Gambling website was complete, we put it to the empirical test!
  • Focus groups in Las Vegas, Nevada, Medford, MA (urban Boston), and North Brookfield, MA (rural Massachusetts).
  • Findings:
    • Prefer simple, easy-to-use interface
    • “Tools” effective  but make them more fun and interactive
    • Need to make the text “less academic”
    • Enhance individual customization features
    • Make it multi-lingual!
social media and health surveillance

Social Media and Health Surveillance

Phil Polgreen, MD

University of Iowa


Annually, an estimated 36,000 deaths and 120,000 hospitalizations occur in the U.S. as a result of influenza

Influenza is associated with other health related problems (acute myocardial infarctions, respiratory disorders, ear infections)

Influenza increases utilization of healthcare resources (inappropriate use of antibiotics)


The Historical Public Health Response to Efforts to Forecast Influenza:

Efforts to apply standard statistical methodology have not been successful

“. . . epidemic activity was unpredictable, and in a biological sense, exceptional.”Stroup, Thacker and Herndon, Statistics in Medicine, 1988.

But those efforts were based on old and relatively poor data

benefits of an influenza forecast include allowing extra time for
Benefits of an influenza forecast include allowing extra time for:

Administering prophylactic medications to persons in high-risk groups

Vaccinating high-risk individuals and healthcare workers

Preparing for an increased number of patients admitted for influenza complication

Social distancing (school closures)

information about influenza activity is available but it is
Information about influenza activity is available but it is:


Expensive to collect

Found in various forms/formats

Private/not in the public domain

Ideas? Questions? Answers?
  • Email me!