skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: A Playful Approach to Household Sustainability: Results From a Pilot Study on Resource Consumption
Background.

U.S. households produce a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions, indicating a potential to reduce their carbon footprints from changing food, energy, and water (FEW) consumption patterns. Behavioral change to FEW consumption is needed, but difficult to achieve. Interactive and engaging approaches like serious games could be a way to increase awareness of possible measures, leading to more sustainable behavior at a household level. This study looks into the experiences and effects of a digital game for homeowners with the potential to reduce FEW resource consumption impacts.

Intervention.

In this study, we developed and implemented a digital game to explore its potential to raise awareness of the consumption and conservation of FEW resources and the efficacy of conservation messages. This study aims to measure learning outcomes from game participation and to assess the suitability of the game for informing resource conservation actions.

Methods.

We tested a proof-of-concept of a digital four-player game, called HomeRUN, with 28 homeowners. The data collected include homeowners’ values and preferences with regard to FEW resources. The patterns of game actions are analyzed with an emphasis on the effectiveness of conservation messaging in informing household consumption behavior.

Results.

About 65% of the respondents agree that they gained a better understanding of the greenhouse gas emission impacts of FEW resource consumption after playing the game. Over 57% of the respondents agree that the game experience would influence their future consumption behavior, while a quarter of the respondents are unsure. Overall, we demonstrate the HomeRUN game has potential as a tool for informing conservation efforts at a household level.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1639342
NSF-PAR ID:
10380074
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
SAGE Publications
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Simulation & Gaming
Volume:
54
Issue:
1
ISSN:
1046-8781
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 104-130
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Vörösmarty, C. (Ed.)

    The household is an important locus of decision-making regarding food, energy, and water (FEW) consumption. Changes in household FEW consumption behaviors can lead to significant reductions in environmental impacts, but it can be difficult for consumers to compare the relative impacts of their consumption quantitatively, or to recognize the indirect impacts of their household consumption patterns. We describe two novel tools designed to address this problem: A hybrid life cycle assessment (LCA) framework to translate household consumption of food, energy, and water into key environmental impacts including greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and water use; and a novel software application calledHomeTrackerthat implements the framework by collecting household FEW data and providing environmental impact feedback to households. We explore the question:How can a life cycle assessment-based software application facilitate collection and translation of household consumption data to meaningful environmental impact metrics?A case study in Lake County, Illinois is presented to illustrate use of theHomeTrackerapplication. Output data describing environmental impacts attributable to household FEW consumption in the study area are shown in order to illustrate key features and trends observed in the case study population. The framework and its associated output data can be used to support experimental research at the household scale, allowing for examination of what users purchase and consume over an extended period of time as well as increased understanding of household behavior trends and environmental impacts, and as future work.

     
    more » « less
  2. Background. Designing interventions for conserving the food, energy, and water nexus at household level poses a significant challenge due to the complex interplay between human behaviors, technologies, and policies. Games show potential to increase awareness for environmental issues and influence behaviors towards more sustainable practices.

    Aim. By bringing together scientists and practitioners in the game design process, a transdisciplinary (TD) approach is seen as a promising way to integrate available knowledge and establish ownership of the problem and solution options. Few gaming literature, however, looked at combining the two approaches in addressing resource conservation issues.

    Method. We present a systematic account of the TD approach process of developing a role-playing game (RPG) - called HomeRUN (Role-play for Understanding Nexus).

    Results. We documented our experiences in terms of challenges as well as the benefits of the TD approach. Interacting disciplines in this process include psychology, economics, engineering, climate, sociology, and computer science. Inputs from each discipline combined with feedback from social actors that include city government, utility companies, and community members facilitated continuous improvements of the RPG design.

     
    more » « less
  3. Introduction Social media has created opportunities for children to gather social support online (Blackwell et al., 2016; Gonzales, 2017; Jackson, Bailey, & Foucault Welles, 2018; Khasawneh, Rogers, Bertrand, Madathil, & Gramopadhye, 2019; Ponathil, Agnisarman, Khasawneh, Narasimha, & Madathil, 2017). However, social media also has the potential to expose children and adolescents to undesirable behaviors. Research showed that social media can be used to harass, discriminate (Fritz & Gonzales, 2018), dox (Wood, Rose, & Thompson, 2018), and socially disenfranchise children (Page, Wisniewski, Knijnenburg, & Namara, 2018). Other research proposes that social media use might be correlated to the significant increase in suicide rates and depressive symptoms among children and adolescents in the past ten years (Mitchell, Wells, Priebe, & Ybarra, 2014). Evidence based research suggests that suicidal and unwanted behaviors can be promulgated through social contagion effects, which model, normalize, and reinforce self-harming behavior (Hilton, 2017). These harmful behaviors and social contagion effects may occur more frequently through repetitive exposure and modelling via social media, especially when such content goes “viral” (Hilton, 2017). One example of viral self-harming behavior that has generated significant media attention is the Blue Whale Challenge (BWC). The hearsay about this challenge is that individuals at all ages are persuaded to participate in self-harm and eventually kill themselves (Mukhra, Baryah, Krishan, & Kanchan, 2017). Research is needed specifically concerning BWC ethical concerns, the effects the game may have on teenagers, and potential governmental interventions. To address this gap in the literature, the current study uses qualitative and content analysis research techniques to illustrate the risk of self-harm and suicide contagion through the portrayal of BWC on YouTube and Twitter Posts. The purpose of this study is to analyze the portrayal of BWC on YouTube and Twitter in order to identify the themes that are presented on YouTube and Twitter posts that share and discuss BWC. In addition, we want to explore to what extent are YouTube videos compliant with safe and effective suicide messaging guidelines proposed by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC). Method Two social media websites were used to gather the data: 60 videos and 1,112 comments from YouTube and 150 posts from Twitter. The common themes of the YouTube videos, comments on those videos, and the Twitter posts were identified using grounded, thematic content analysis on the collected data (Padgett, 2001). Three codebooks were built, one for each type of data. The data for each site were analyzed, and the common themes were identified. A deductive coding analysis was conducted on the YouTube videos based on the nine SPRC safe and effective messaging guidelines (Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2006). The analysis explored the number of videos that violated these guidelines and which guidelines were violated the most. The inter-rater reliabilities between the coders ranged from 0.61 – 0.81 based on Cohen’s kappa. Then the coders conducted consensus coding. Results & Findings Three common themes were identified among all the posts in the three social media platforms included in this study. The first theme included posts where social media users were trying to raise awareness and warning parents about this dangerous phenomenon in order to reduce the risk of any potential participation in BWC. This was the most common theme in the videos and posts. Additionally, the posts claimed that there are more than 100 people who have played BWC worldwide and provided detailed description of what each individual did while playing the game. These videos also described the tasks and different names of the game. Only few videos provided recommendations to teenagers who might be playing or thinking of playing the game and fewer videos mentioned that the provided statistics were not confirmed by reliable sources. The second theme included posts of people that either criticized the teenagers who participated in BWC or made fun of them for a couple of reasons: they agreed with the purpose of BWC of “cleaning the society of people with mental issues,” or they misunderstood why teenagers participate in these kind of challenges, such as thinking they mainly participate due to peer pressure or to “show off”. The last theme we identified was that most of these users tend to speak in detail about someone who already participated in BWC. These videos and posts provided information about their demographics and interviews with their parents or acquaintances, who also provide more details about the participant’s personal life. The evaluation of the videos based on the SPRC safe messaging guidelines showed that 37% of the YouTube videos met fewer than 3 of the 9 safe messaging guidelines. Around 50% of them met only 4 to 6 of the guidelines, while the remaining 13% met 7 or more of the guidelines. Discussion This study is the first to systematically investigate the quality, portrayal, and reach of BWC on social media. Based on our findings from the emerging themes and the evaluation of the SPRC safe messaging guidelines we suggest that these videos could contribute to the spread of these deadly challenges (or suicide in general since the game might be a hoax) instead of raising awareness. Our suggestion is parallel with similar studies conducted on the portrait of suicide in traditional media (Fekete & Macsai, 1990; Fekete & Schmidtke, 1995). Most posts on social media romanticized people who have died by following this challenge, and younger vulnerable teens may see the victims as role models, leading them to end their lives in the same way (Fekete & Schmidtke, 1995). The videos presented statistics about the number of suicides believed to be related to this challenge in a way that made suicide seem common (Cialdini, 2003). In addition, the videos presented extensive personal information about the people who have died by suicide while playing the BWC. These videos also provided detailed descriptions of the final task, including pictures of self-harm, material that may encourage vulnerable teens to consider ending their lives and provide them with methods on how to do so (Fekete & Macsai, 1990). On the other hand, these videos both failed to emphasize prevention by highlighting effective treatments for mental health problems and failed to encourage teenagers with mental health problems to seek help and providing information on where to find it. YouTube and Twitter are capable of influencing a large number of teenagers (Khasawneh, Ponathil, Firat Ozkan, & Chalil Madathil, 2018; Pater & Mynatt, 2017). We suggest that it is urgent to monitor social media posts related to BWC and similar self-harm challenges (e.g., the Momo Challenge). Additionally, the SPRC should properly educate social media users, particularly those with more influence (e.g., celebrities) on elements that boost negative contagion effects. While the veracity of these challenges is doubted by some, posting about the challenges in unsafe manners can contribute to contagion regardless of the challlenges’ true nature. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Human‐mediated species introductions provide real‐time experiments in how communities respond to interspecific competition. For example, managed honey beesApis mellifera(L.) have been widely introduced outside their native range and may compete with native bees for pollen and nectar. Indeed, multiple studies suggest that honey bees and native bees overlap in their use of floral resources. However, for resource overlap to negatively impact resource collection by native bees, resource availability must also decline, and few studies investigate impacts of honey bee competition on native bee floral visits and floral resource availability simultaneously.

    In this study, we investigate impacts of increasing honey bee abundance on native bee visitation patterns, pollen diets, and nectar and pollen resource availability in two Californian landscapes: wildflower plantings in the Central Valley and montane meadows in the Sierra.

    We collected data on bee visits to flowers, pollen and nectar availability, and pollen carried on bee bodies across multiple sites in the Sierra and Central Valley. We then constructed plant‐pollinator visitation networks to assess how increasing honey bee abundance impacted perceived apparent competition (PAC), a measure of niche overlap, and pollinator specialization (d'). We also compared PAC values against null expectations to address whether observed changes in niche overlap were greater or less than what we would expect given the relative abundances of interacting partners.

    We find clear evidence of exploitative competition in both ecosystems based on the following results: (1) honey bee competition increased niche overlap between honey bees and native bees, (2) increased honey bee abundance led to decreased pollen and nectar availability in flowers, and (3) native bee communities responded to competition by shifting their floral visits, with some becoming more specialized and others becoming more generalized depending on the ecosystem and bee taxon considered.

    Although native bees can adapt to honey bee competition by shifting their floral visits, the coexistence of honey bees and native bees is tenuous and will depend on floral resource availability. Preserving and augmenting floral resources is therefore essential in mitigating negative impacts of honey bee competition. In two California ecosystems, honey bee competition decreases pollen and nectar resource availability in flowers and alters native bee diets with potential implications for bee conservation and wildlands management.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract Objectives

    Infant feeding plays a critical role in child health and development. Few studies to date have examined the link between household water insecurity and infant feeding, and none in a cross‐cultural context. Therefore, we examined the perceived impact of household water insecurity in four domains: breastfeeding, non‐breastmilk feeding, caregiver capabilities, and infant health. Our research was conducted as part of the Household Water Insecurity Experiences (HWISE) study.

    Methods

    We interviewed respondents from 19 sites in 16 low‐ and middle‐income countries (N = 3303) about the link between water insecurity and infant feeding. We then thematically analyzed their open‐ended textual responses. In each of the four domains (breastfeeding, non‐breastmilk feeding, caregiver capabilities, infant health), we inductively identified cross‐cultural metathemes. We analyzed the distribution of themes across sites quantitatively and qualitatively.

    Results

    Water was perceived to directly affect breastfeeding and non‐breastmilk feeding via numerous pathways, including timing and frequency of feeding, unclean foods, and reduced dietary diversity. Water was perceived to indirectly affect infant feeding through caregiver capabilities by increasing time demands, exacerbating disease, undernutrition, and mortality, and requiring greater efficacy of caregivers. Respondents made connections between water challenges and infant health, for example, increased risk of infectious diseases, undernutrition, and mortality.

    Conclusions

    These findings suggest that water presents many, and sometimes unexpected, challenges to infant feeding. By systematically investigating biocultural pathways by which water impacts infant and young child feeding, it will be possible to understand if, and how, water security can be leveraged to improve child nutrition and health.

     
    more » « less