Monday, May 25, 2015

The era of positive computing

Computers have ever since their inception been largely used as a productivity tool. But recently there has been an increasing interest in the use of computers foster wellbeing – this is being referred to as positive computing.

Digital technologies have made their way into all aspects of our lives that influence our wellbeing - affecting everything from social relationships and curiosity to engagement and learning.

Psychologists have generally focused on the negative impacts of using Internet technologies or on the potential of these technologies to be used to help those suffering from mental health problems. However, recent advances in the development of tools go beyond prevention of disorders to actually promote wellbeing.

In fact, we may be entering an era of positive computing, in which technology will be designed specifically to promote wellbeing and human potential.

Future technology designed to foster wellbeing has the potential to affect population-wide positive change on an unprecedented scale. Thanks to new research, health professionals are now increasingly turning to technology-based interventions to promote physical and psychological wellbeing.

Sydney University’s Positive Computing in Health Systems project node draws on expertise across the disciplines of medicine, psychology and technology to explore how design strategies and technology use affect user behavior and health. This will enable the development of new knowledge and strategies that support wellbeing and more sophisticated technologies to promote better health outcomes.

Using the Charles Perkins Centre themes of Nutrition and Physical Activity, Exercise and Energy Expenditure as a knowledge base, the collaboration between psychology experts and technology designers allows for investigation of how psychological factors such as motivation, autonomy and self-efficacy support wellbeing in relation to nutrition and physical activity.

In the first instance, the project node aims to develop technological models that can inform existing Charles Perkins Centre related projects. Technological models developed from this study will also have wide potential for application to other health and wellbeing research.

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